Uber drivers call strike TOMORROW: Cabbies set to switch-off app

Uber drivers call strike TOMORROW: Workers set to switch-off taxi app in row over pay… causing nightmare for thousands already hit by petrol crisis

  • The United Private Hire Drivers union is striking over pay and drivers’ rights
  •  It is urging motorists to switch off the app and go to Uber’s Aldgate offices
  • The taxi industry has been hit hard by petrol shortages as have passengers 

Uber drivers are set to go on strike tomorrow, in a move that will spell more transport misery for tens of thousands across London and beyond.

Taxi drivers are being urged to swtich off the ride-hailing app for 24 hours and join a protest outside the tech giant’s east London office.

Organisers, the United Private Hire Drivers union, want drivers to meet at an Asda branch before going to Uber’s Aldgate Tower HQ en masse.

Uber and other taxis have been suffering in recent weeks due to the shortage of petrol, which has seen fares soar while the availability of taxis dramatically shrink. 

The UPHB said: ‘Switch off the Uber app for 24 hours on 6 Oct.

‘Join the protest outside Uber’s Office at Aldgate Tower, E1 8QN from 11am.

The United Private Hire Drivers announced the strike on its Twitter profile this morning

Fuel missing from the pumps was caused by a shortage of HGV drivers available to stock them

The union wants the strike to drive to Uber’s officers in Aldgate, London, tomorrow

‘If coming with a car, meet before at 10am at Stepney Green ASDA to then drive over together.’

There have already been strikes over issues including pay and claims that workers are being unfairly dismissed.

Members of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) last week held protests in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow, and are urging people not to use the service during the 24-hour walkout.

The union has accused the company of failing to implement a court ruling to pay waiting time, which it says makes up around 40% of an Uber driver’s working time, and claims that large numbers of drivers are being unfairly sacked.

Uber insisted it is working with unions to raise standards for drivers.

The union is also in dispute over the introduction of fixed price fares which it claims has led to reduced driver incomes.

Yaseen Aslam, ADCU president said: ‘It is shameful that Uber continues to defy the highest court in the land to cheat 70,000 workers out of pay for 40% of their true working time.

Cars queue at a Tesco garage in Frien Barnet in London last week during the fuel shortage

A lorry with a digital display advertising an Uber strike on September 26 in Brighton last week

‘The drivers know they deserve and are legally entitled to much more than Uber is offering.

‘This strike is just the beginning and there will be much more unrest until Uber does the right thing and pays drivers all that they are owed, both pension contributions and working time.’

General secretary James Farrar added: ‘Uber has continued to intensify its use of junk surveillance tech and algorithmic management control to maximise profits.

‘The results have been catastrophic, with hundreds of people unfairly dismissed and accused of unspecified ‘fraudulent activity’.

‘Instead of trying to gag unions from exposing the flaws in their tech, Uber should instead guarantee all drivers protection from unfair dismissal and the right to access a proper, human-led appeals process.’

An Uber spokesperson said: ‘Following the historic trade union recognition deal with GMB, drivers have an even stronger voice within Uber.

‘We are working together with our trade union partner to raise standards for drivers through greater transparency and engagement.

‘GMB represents drivers in areas such as earnings, deactivations and the implementation of new worker benefits, such as holiday pay and pensions.’

Uber formally recognised the GMB earlier this year, saying the union could represent up to 70,000 Uber drivers across the UK.

Uber announced in March that 70,000 drivers will be treated as workers, earning at least the National Living Wage, with paid-for holiday time. Those eligible will be automatically enrolled into a pension plan.

Struggling to get an Uber? How thousands of drivers quitting due to Covid and firm ramping up fees of those remaining has left cabbies using rival apps to get highest fares creating a nightmare for users

Why it’s become so hard to get an Uber: Perfect storm of problems facing customers wanting a ride 

Lack of drivers

Uber has lost thousands of drivers since the start of the Covid pandemic, according to those working with the service. Many drivers are understood to have swapped taxi driving for takeaway deliveries following a huge drop in demand for cabs during lockdown. Uber says it wants to recruit 20,000 new drivers by the end of 2021. 

Surge pricing

A lack of drivers has led to an increase in surge pricing, some say. The app automatically raises prices to match increased demand. With less Uber drivers around, surging happens more, drivers say.

Drivers using rival apps

Uber drivers are allowed to use rival ride-hailing apps at the same time. This allows them to pick and choose the best fares. But it also means drivers can cancel trips enroute to pick-ups if they find a better fare, leaving users facing a longer wait. 

Trips not worthwhile for drivers  

Because Uber does not pay its drivers to get to a customers, drivers say short trips which take a long time to get to aren’t worthwhile. It means if you are far away from a group of drivers, and it is a short trip, it may not be economically viable for them to pick you p. 

Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes causing a nightmare

On top of that, Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes are making it harder for taxi drivers to reach their customers, discouraging them from accepting fares.

Frustrated Uber customers are facing higher fares and longer waits for a pick-up because of a perfect storm of driver shortages, surge pricing and so-called ‘multi-apping’, MailOnline can today reveal.

It is understood that ‘thousands’ of drivers have quit the ride-hailing app since the start of the pandemic, with many now working for takeaway delivery firms such as JustEat, Deliveroo and sister firm UberEats.

And while Uber says it is launching a recruitment campaign to up its numbers, current drivers say many who left during last year’s lockdowns are yet to return.

This, drivers say, has led to an increase in the use of ‘surge charging’ – where the app automatically ups fare prices due to a spike in demand.

Meanwhile, drivers are said to be furious about changes to their pay deal with Uber, meaning they are now having to fork a larger chunk of their fare to the San Francisco-based tech firm.

Uber increased the service rate from 20 to 25 per cent for thousands of drivers after Supreme Court judges in the UK ruled the company must give its workers benefits such as holiday pay.

To keep their take-home pay up, drivers are taking to ‘multi-apping’ – using other ride-hailing services such as Bolt and FreeNow at the same – in order to pick-up the highest fare.

But it means passengers waiting for an Uber are regularly having rides accepted, only to have them cancelled while the driver is en-route.  

Some disgruntled passengers say they have waited more than 10 minutes for a ride in London – where pick-up times were previously a matter of minutes. 

On top of that, cabbies have continued to rail against the dreaded Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes (LTNs) which are making it a nightmare for drivers to reach customers. 

Disgruntled users have meanwhile vowed to no longer use Uber due to its long wait times and  ‘crazy’ prices. 

Meanwhile, Uber, which denies upping prices, says it is plans to sign-up an additional 20,000 drivers across the UK to meet demand as more workers return to the office.

But one customer told MailOnline: ‘I use Uber quite a lot but have now decided to use other apps. I realised that it takes ages to get a ride. 

‘I had to wait around 10 minutes once for a service, and have also had rides confirmed thinking I would be on my way out just for it to have it cancelled – and this happened more than once.’

Frustrated Uber customers are facing higher fares and longer waits for a pick-up because of a perfect storm of driver shortages, surge pricing and so-called ‘multi-apping’, MailOnline can today reveal. Pictured: Drivers are allowed to run multiple ride-hailing apps at the same time – allowing them to pick and chose the biggest fares

It is understood that ‘thousands’ of drivers have quit the ride-hailing app (pictured: An Uber vehicle) since the start of the pandemic, with many now working for takeaway delivery firms such as JustEat, Deliveroo and sister firm UberEats

In a bid to keep their take-home pay up, drivers are taking to ‘multi-apping’ – using other ride-hailing services such as Bolt and FreeNow at the same – in order to pick-up the highest fare

How do the prices compare? 

MailOnline price checked the leading ride-hailing app to see how their prices compared. The figures are based on a trip from our office in Kensington to Trafalgar Square and were all quoted around 11am on August 12.

Uber – £11.81 for a standard vehicle

Bolt – £5 (with discount offer of 50 per cent)

FreeNow (formerly Hailo) – £14 – £18 for a black cab

Drivers have told MailOnline how the issue began at the start of the Covid pandemic, when demand plummeted due to the Covid lockdown in the UK.

Uber driver Nader Awaad said ‘thousands’ subsequently quit the ride-hailing app, because many were unable to make a living nor claim financial support. 

Others were forced to take out Covid support loans to tide them over during the pandemic. 

Mr Awaad, who is the elected chair of United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD), said many of the drivers began working for delivery firms such as sister company UberEats, and rivals such as JustEat and Deliveroo.

He told MailOnline: ‘I had to take out a £20,000 loan at the start of the pandemic. 

‘I didn’t stop driving. I was driving seven days a week to keep myself going.

‘Not everyone was able to do deliveries, my car is a Mercedes so it wouldn’t work for me. But that’s why we lost a lot of drivers.’

He says the situation has been made worse by an effective cut in pay for thousands of Uber drivers.

Uber increased its service fee for many drivers following a Supreme Court ruling in the UK in February. 

The ruling meant that Uber drivers are now classed as ‘workers’ rather than contractors and thus entitled to benefits such as holiday pay.

Uber later moved its longer serving drivers from a 20 per cent service rate – the cut it takes from each fare – to a rate of to 25 per cent.

Bosses of the ride-hailing app say the move was to ‘standardise’ the charge. Uber said newer drivers were already paying this higher rate prior to the court judgment.

But Mr Awaad says that some trips for Uber drivers are now no longer worth taking, particularly in the midst of rising fuel prices. 

He says drivers are also not paid for their journey to the customer, meaning many drivers are rejecting trips which are not in a close vicinity.

This, along with the increased service charge, he says, has resulted in some drivers taking to ‘multi-apping’.

Multi-apping, which is permitted by Uber, is when drivers have numerous ride-hailing apps opened at one time.

For example, a driver can be searching for an Uber customer and one from rival ride-hailing app Bolt at the same time.

Mr Awaad says this allows drivers to pick and chose the best fare. He said: ‘I feel guilty cancelling a trip, but drivers are just driving to maximise the price.

‘If Uber pays £15 for a trip and Bolt pays £25, what are you going to? 

‘That’s why customers are waiting for so long at the moment. It’s chaos.’ 

Mr Awaad also said drivers often boost their income by driving in ‘surge periods’.

Surge times are essentially public transport peak periods, where prices are hiked to reflect demand.

Unlike traditional peak periods though, Uber surges can happen late at night, such as pub or club kick-out time, when there is a spike in demand for Ubers but not as many drivers.

However, Mr Awaad said that due to a lack of drivers, Uber was now ‘surging all the time’. 

‘It’s not fair on the customers,’ he added.

Uber users have noticed the changes, with many taking to Twitter to moan about the service. 

One Twitter user wrote: ‘You legit have to allow an extra 20 minutes to your journey when using Uber. 

‘You have to wait so long for them to connect to a driver and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be cancelled on. Sort it out.’

Another wrote: ‘Wait 10 minutes, finally connect with a driver… ALWAYS get canceled on at least once before they connect you with another 10 mins away. Such an awful service these days.’ 

Meanwhile, Twitter user Samia, added: ‘Never using Uber again. 

‘Every time I try to book a ride home from central London it gets cancelled by at least five drivers.

‘I have a 4.5 rating. It ends up taking longer to book an Uber now than to get home for me. 

‘I took a black cab home and it was cheaper including my tip!’ 

Others have taken to Twitter to complain about the ‘crazy prices’ they are being charged. 

One wrote: ‘I spent £13 on an Uber for Hockley to The Park Estate the other night… make it make sense.’

Another claimed they were quoted more than £70 for a trip from Croydon to east London.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Was in Hammersmith in west London the other day. Needed to go about a mile with the tube down. 

‘Uber wanted to charge £18 and make me wait 15 minutes for other passengers’ rides to end. 

‘Hailed a black cab from the station who was ready to go, only cost me £15 with a tip.’  

Union bosses have pointed the finger at Uber for the drop in service. 

Charlie McNamara, branch coordinator at United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) told MailOnline: ‘Employers often complain about not being to get enough employees while paying low wages. This is one of those cases.

In February the UK’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of drivers being classed as ‘workers’ after a five year battle.

Drivers were previously classed as self-employed ‘contractors’ by Uber, meaning they were not entitled to benefits in the same way paid employees are.

But, in a landmark ruling for the gig economy, Supreme Court judges ruled that drivers should be classed as workers and therefore be given the same rights.

It meant Uber faced having to pay workers millions in back-dated compensation, while newer drivers would have to be given pay for holidays going forward.

The taxi giant had argued its 60,000 UK drivers were independent contractors and so not entitled to employment benefits.

But judges instead ruled that Uber’s ‘very tightly defined and controlled’ business model and fares process meant drivers were in ‘a position of subordination and dependency’ – and could not be deemed ‘independent contractors’ 

‘Drivers need to be able to make a proper living and that’s leading to this drop in service.’ 

Out of Uber’s control is another problem for it and many other cab drivers – dreaded Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes.

The schemes have wreaked havoc for drivers, particularly in London, where borough chiefs have closed off roads to essentially create giant cycle lanes and walkways.

Bollards or large planters are often installed, blocking once easy driving routes and sometimes creating long diversions. 

Drivers, who already say they are struggling to make-ends-meet with some Uber trips, say LTN schemes make some trips even hard by forcing them to quite literally ‘go-round-the-houses’ to reach or drop off passengers.

The United Trade Action Group, a union group supported by taxi drivers, has been appealing against Transport for London schemes installed as part of its much-maligned Streetspace project. 

However, last month, The Court of Appeal upheld TfL’s appeal against a January ruling which declared parts of LTN’s unlawful. 

Meanwhile, another element of concern for Uber, who once held the monopoly on ride-hailing apps, will be the rise in competitor service Bolt.

The service was launched in 2013 by Estonian entrepreneur Markus Villig, who is just 27 years old.

The company, previously known as Taxify, now operates in more than 45 countries.

And just this month it was revealed the firm had €600million (£453million) from venture capital funds to grow the business.  

Speaking to the Telegraph earlier this month, Mr Villig, who is still only 27, said: ‘We have a very different mentality from some of the usual Silicon Valley companies which just raise billions and billions of funding. 

One element of concern for Uber, who once held the monopoly on ride-hailing apps, will be the rise in competitor service Bolt (pictured: A Bolt vehicle). The service was launched in 2013 by Estonian entrepreneur Markus Villig, who is just 27 years old. The company, previously known as Taxify, now operates in more than 45 countries.

Britain’s £15billion takeaway binge: Deliveroo orders double while JustEat sees 75% rise despite lockdown measures ending 

Takeaway giants Deliveroo and Just Eat have seen a huge rise in sales despite the end of lockdown, new figures show.

The Covid pandemic resulted in a fast food spending boom with some £15 billion in sales registered last year compared to 2019.

The spend is largely down to the regularity of orders, with 38% of homes tucking into a takeaway at least once a week, according to the British Takeaway Campaign.

In new figures released today, Deliveroo said it took 71.4 million orders in the first six months of 2021 in the UK, double the figure of 34.7 million recorded in the same period last year. It also reported a doubling of gross transaction value, to nearly £3.4 billion.

Rivals Just Eat, meanwhile, have also experienced a substantial sales hike, having received 135 million orders in the first half of this year, up from 76.8 million in 2020 – a rise of 76%.

The firms have been boosted by more than a year of on-and-off lockdowns in the UK, with customers unable to visit restaurants, and so ordering their food online instead.

At the start of lockdown, takeaway companies were hailed for their importance by ministers, with the Government reportedly asking pizza giant Domino’s to keep stores open ‘and provide local communities freshly made pizza to help boost morale and keep people safe at home’. 

Despite restrictions easing, Deliveroo said today that so far it has proven fairly immune to the end of lockdown, with ‘no material impact’ from the UK reopening during the second quarter of the year.

In accounting, anything with a less than 1% effect on turnover can be considered as having no material impact.

‘They sort of lavishly spend the various things and think it’s going to be a winner take all market. 

‘There will be a monopoly and it doesn’t really matter. 

‘For us it is completely different. we’re coming from Estonia [with an] Eastern European background. 

‘We’re like: ‘How do we operate this thing as frugally as possible?”

Bolt also told MailOnline it was hoping to expand into 10 new cities by the end of the year, though it did not reveal which ones. 

Uber meanwhile is spending big to get drivers back to the service in the wake of the Covid lockdowns. 

Last month it was announced in the US that the company was planning to send $250million (£180million) on incentives to encourage drivers back.

Uber told MailOnline it is planning to recruit 20,000 new drivers in the UK by the end of this year to meet an increase in demand. 

It says it already has 70,000 drivers already on its books.

An Uber spokesperson said: ‘As cities open up and people start moving again, we are encouraging 20,000 new drivers to sign up in order to meet rider demand. 

‘We are proud to offer every driver the rights and protections they deserve – a guaranteed wage, holiday pay and a pension – but we’re not the only player in town.

‘Drivers work with multiple operators and deserve the same standard of work on every trip.’

In response to concerns about pricing, Uber says its is ‘committed’ to offering competitive prices to its customers.  

The spokesperson added: ‘The Uber app uses dynamic pricing to respond to the levels of supply and demand at any one time. 

‘When a large number of people in a specific area are booking a trip at the same time and there aren’t enough available cars, fares automatically rise to encourage more drivers to go to the busy area and earn a higher fare.

‘Users will always see a fare estimate in advance so they have the choice to book a car or share the trip with others.’

Uber denied that it had reduced fares for drivers, and said drivers were now ‘better off’ in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, as the company was now paying drivers 12 per cent of their earnings as cash on a weekly basis to represent holiday pay.

The company said under its policies that drivers are allowed to use multiple apps, such as Bolt, while being a driver for Uber. 

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