Earlier this week, Uber announced to drivers that their longest-serving drivers would see the service charge that they take from their pay increase from 20% to 25%. This comes at a time when drivers are still desperately trying to recover from being hit hard by the pandemic. Last year drivers saw wages reduced to almost nothing while rental fees and other overheads continued. Many drivers were forced to work in unsafe conditions, chasing the minimal work that was on offer just to try and make ends meet.
“I have worked for Uber for 6 years and working throughout the pandemic has been such a tough time for drivers,” Hassan Haji, Uber driver for 6 years and UPHD member said.
“Not only have we seen pay drastically fall, we have had to risk our lives chasing the pennies on offer. I could not stay home and keep safe, and so I continued to work and carried passengers safely around London. The thanks I have got from Uber? A 5% pay cut that will further destroy my finances that were already in tatters. I am trying hard to recover from the pandemic and Uber seem to just want to make things worse.”
The majority of private hire drivers are from the BAME community- studies have shown to be adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Uber has cynically claimed that the change, which comes into effect on the 13th July, is in order to bring equality amongst drivers as new starters are already charged the 25%. In the same breath as announcing the pay cuts, Uber made reference to the worker contracts and improved pay and conditions that they were forced to implement in light of the Supreme Court ruling. This latest move by Uber proves that while they have rolled out new contracts, they are now making drivers pay the costs. This is a big challenge to the voluntary recognition agreement recently signed by Uber, making it look even more like a PR stunt. Uber’s main aim is still to extract as much value from driver’s labour as possible.
Nader Awaad, UPHD Chair and Uber driver said: “We all knew that Uber would raid the drivers’ pockets to pay for them breaking the law and depriving drivers of their rights, and here they are doing exactly that. This is a company that is expanding and flooding cities around the world with drivers every day. They can more than afford to pay the hardworking drivers what they deserve, but instead it is the drivers who are being forced to pay out of the pittance they are making. This shows Uber cannot be trusted, and now, more than ever, drivers must organise and join UPHD to make sure their pockets are the last place Uber comes when they need money to cover their lawbreaking antics!”