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Union threatens legal action against TfL over Uber operating licence

The GMB union have threatened legal action against Transport for London (TfL) unless it imposes conditions on taxi company Uber before renewing the company’s Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) Operator’s licence at the end of this month.

Uber HQ

17 May 2017

GMB, represented by law firm Leigh Day, claim that conditions need to be imposed by TfL to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and other road users.

The union claims that Uber drivers are having to work excessive hours in order to earn a living wage in the capital and that Uber encourages the working of excessive hours by the oversupply of drivers and incentivising the number of trips made by drivers.
In a letter before action sent to TfL on Tuesday 16 May 2017 the union has asked TfL for the following conditions to be imposed when Uber’s operating licence is renewed:
  1. Limit the maximum hours that an Uber driver can provide Uber PHV services in London
  2. Limit the number of individuals engaged by Uber as Uber drivers to provide Uber PHV services in London
  3. Require Uber to have in place a guaranteed income scheme for Uber drivers in London to allow Uber drivers to earn a London living wage without working excessive hours
The union has requested a response from TfL within 14 days and has notified TfL that if Uber’s operating licence is renewed without imposing the above conditions it intends to apply for a judicial review of the decision to renew.
The GMB were also represented by Leigh Day in their successful case against Uber in the Employment Tribunal regarding the employment status of workers and their right to holiday pay and the minimum wage. This case is currently being appealed by Uber.
Rosa Curling, solicitor at Leigh Day, said:
“Transport for London, as the licensing authority, has a duty to ensure Uber operates responsibly within the city. It must ensure Uber acts in accordance with its legal obligations, and properly protects and promotes its drivers’ rights.”

Warren Kenny, GMB Regional Secretary London Region said:

"GMB stand at the forefront of ensuring a fair balance between the respective rights of employers and workers in the logistics and private hire transport sector.

“We want to remind TFL of their obligations to all London transport users and not just to powerful lobbyists at Uber, and hope they will decide to impose the reasonable conditions we have requested to Uber's licence."

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, said:

"We have widespread evidence of a culture of excessive hours being driven by workers frequently being paid below the living wage as they try to make ends meet.

“We hope TFL will take their responsibilities as a transport regulator as seriously as the employment courts have when reviewing Uber's practices and procedures." 

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