Big news. After 9 months of solid UPHD member campaigning we have a breakthrough. Yesterday, UK Government Transport Minister John Hayes MP agreed to setting up an independent inquiry into the pay and conditions of Uber drivers with a view to making worker protections a condition of licensing. This move comes after an important intervention by Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions select committee.
UPHD members will long be aware of our resolute campaign goal of making worker protections a condition of licensing. Eradicating, what Frank Field MP described as, 'sweated labour' conditions from the publicly licensed transport system must be a critical objective of any responsible licensing authority in order to protect drivers and the public from harm associated with long hours and exploitative working practices.
To date, UPHD has been the lone voice on this from the taxi and private hire lobby but our campaign goal has started to grab the attention of policy makers.
- In September 2016 UPHD issued its ground breaking report 'Who breaks a butterfly upon the wheel? Licensed into 'brutal exploitation' by Transport for London. The cruel regulation and sweatshop conditions of London's booming minicab trade.' The Guardian coverage of this report rightly observed that TfL was fostering private hire driver exploitation through a policy of laissez faire and indifference.
- In December 2016 Frank Field MP and Andrew Forsey, after attending UPHD branch meetings and taking evidence from over 80 of our members, issued their report 'Sweated Labour: Uber and the gig economy'. This report adopted our earlier recommendations for worker protections be made a condition of license.
- In February 2016, UPHD Scotland Chair David Dunn and London committee member Syed Khalil testified about Uber abuse of drivers before the Department of Work and Pensions Committee Chair, Frank Field MP.
- In March 2016, as a result of tireless UPHD campaigning, the London Assembly passed a motion calling on the Mayor to make worker protections a condition of private hire operator licensing.
- In May 2017, we initiated legal action demanding that TfL protect worker rights as a condition of renewing Uber's license.
We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Frank Field for taking up our cause and delivering change that other could and should have long ago.
The UPHD branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain now calls on the entire private hire trade including ethical operators and other trade bodies to get behind our campaign to make worker protections a condition of operator licensing. It is time to bring an end to nearly two decades of shameful exploitation of private hire drivers and begin together a race to the top.