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UPHD files complaint against TfL for ethics violation in exploitation of the very drivers it is supposed to protect

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UPHD files complaint against TfL for violation of ethical supply chain policy in exploitation of the very drivers it is supposed to regulate

Today UPHD filed a complaint against TfL with the Mayor of London for TfL’s violation of its own policies for ethical sourcing. (see letter attached)

A freedom of information request has exposed the fact that TfL continues to use Uber for business travel purposes even after the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled that drivers have been denied basic worker rights including the minimum wage and holiday pay. In December, Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee authored a report likening Uber working conditions for drivers to ‘sweated labour of the Victorian era’.

In addition, many UPHD members have made similar complaints about working conditions at Addison Lee which warrant TfL supply chain due diligence.

Further complicating matters is the fact that TfL separately licenses Uber, Addison Lee and private hire drivers and collects in the region of £25 million per annum in license fees from drivers alone. Despite this, TfL refuses to recognise stakeholder representation from UPHD, nor any dedicated private hire driver representative body, despite UPHD having the largest driver membership base in London and throughout the UK. On the other hand, TfL regularly meets Addison Lee and Uber and investigative reporting by the Daily Mail this week has exposed inappropriate contact between TfL as regulator and Uber as licensee.

Therefore, TfL is seriously compromised when it comes to its own Ethical Sourcing Policy. Not only is it failing to safeguard drivers from exploitation through its role as regulator now it has become complicit in driver exploitation by also failing to adhere to its own ethical sourcing policy as set out by the Mayor of London.

UPHD is requesting the Mayor to direct TfL to urgently do the following:

1.       To carry out a full financial audit to identify the scale of TfL’s exposure to worker rights abuses in its supply chain.

2.       In line with TfL’s own defined policy and procedures, cooperate with UPHD in a process of remediation to ensure effected drivers will be compensated in line with Mayor’s commitment to the London Living Wage.

3.       In line with TfL’s own defined policy and procedures, cooperate with UPHD to ensure safeguards are in place so that all private hire suppliers meet the standards set out in TfL’s Ethical Sourcing Policy going forward.

James Farrar, co founder of UPHD said:

‘'It’s bad enough that TfL has crossed the line of propriety in its relationship with Uber and in its refusal to recognise the democratic will of Uber drivers organised by UPHD. But, its unforgivable that TfL has utterly compromised itself by becoming complicit in the exploitation of the very drivers it should be protecting by failing to follow its own Ethical Sourcing Policy. We need swift action from TfL to come back into ethical compliance.’’

Yaseen Aslam, co founder UPHD said:
''TfL is failing abysmally in its role as regulator of the taxi and private hire trade in London. It has presided over worker exploitation for years and now it has crossed the line. It is time for an independent inquiry into the Taxi and Private Hire Directorate to root out corruption and give Londonders the service they deserve.''


James Farrar, 07530 319206
Yaseen Aslam, 07894 528992

Further Information:
1.       TfL Ethical Sourcing Policy

2.       TfL’s Taxi & Private Hire division is responsible for private hire operator and driver licensing in London.

3.       Cameron aide's Uber 'cover up': Downing Street accused of withholding emails about its secret campaign to help online taxi firm and stop Boris regulating it in London
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4.       Employment Tribunal Judgement against Uber.

5.       Uber and the Gig Economy. A report by Frank Field, MP'gig%20economy'.pdf

6.       Letter to Mayor Khan sent March 29, 2016.

Formal complaint - Uber and Addison Lee in violation of TfL Ethical Sourcing Policy

Dear Mayor Khan

A recent Freedom of Information request of TfL (FOI-1849-1617) confirms that TfL uses both Uber and Addison Lee for business travel purposes.

As you will be aware, the Central London Employment Tribunal has found that Uber is in violation of UK employment law by denying basic worker rights to drivers including the right to the national living wage and holiday pay. This case was taken by myself and my co-founder Yaseen Aslam and we have since filed many more legal complaints against Uber on behalf of our members.

In addition, many of our members have made similar complaints to UPHD about abuse of workers by Addison Lee including the denial of worker rights, pay below the national minimum wage and company deduction from wages for disciplinary purposes.

TfL’s Ethical Sourcing Policy states that it based on the ETI Base Code and on behalf of our members we would like to make a formal complaint that Uber and Addison Lee (individually and/or collectively) are not meeting the following provisions of the ETI Base Code, a condition of being a supplier to TfL.

1.2.3 Workers representatives are not discriminated against and have access to carry out their representative functions in the workplace.

1.3.1 A safe and hygienic working environment shall be provided, bearing in mind the prevailing knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards. Adequate steps shall be taken to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, associated with, or occurring in the course of work, by minimising, so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of hazards inherent in the working environment.

1.3.2 Workers shall receive regular and recorded health and safety training, and such training shall be repeated for new or reassigned workers.

1.3.3 Access to clean toilet facilities and to potable water, and, if appropriate, sanitary facilities for food storage shall be provided.

1.5.1 Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. In any event wages should always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.

1.5.2 All workers shall be provided with written and understandable information about their employment conditions in respect to wages before they enter employment and about the particulars of their wages for the pay period concerned each time that they are paid.

1.5.3 Deductions from wages as a disciplinary measure shall not be permitted nor shall any deductions from wages not provided for by national law be permitted without the expressed permission of the worker concerned. All disciplinary measures should be recorded

1.6.1 Working hours comply with national laws and benchmark industry standards, whichever affords greater protection.

1.6.2 In any event, workers shall not on a regular basis be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week and shall be provided with at least one day off for every 7 day period on average. Overtime shall be voluntary, shall not exceed 12 hours per week, shall not be demanded on a regular basis and shall always be compensated at a premium rate.

1.8.1 To every extent possible work performed must be on the basis of recognised employment relationship established through national law and practice.

1.8.2 Obligations to employees under labour or social security laws and regulations arising from the regular employment relationship shall not be avoided through the use of labour-only contracting, sub- contracting, or home-working arrangements, or through apprenticeship schemes where there is no real intent to impart skills or provide regular employment, nor shall any such obligations be avoided through the excessive use of fixed term contracts of employment.

According to TfL’s Ethical Procurement policy TfL will:

7.1 Work with Suppliers to place contract conditions, based on the ETI Base Code, into relevant new contracts.

7.2 Work with existing Suppliers as part of contract review meetings to investigate and make any necessary changes, where possible and appropriate, in existing contracts that are deemed to be high-risk. In particular, existing Suppliers should be encouraged to join Sedex (or an equivalent) on the basis of relevant supply chains.

8.2 Make and maintain contact with local, regional and global NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and trade union organisations. Use these contacts to both monitor working conditions and to ensure that any remedial action undertaken is effective and sustainable.

Accordingly, UPHD is now requesting the following actions are carried out as necessary for remedy:

1.       TfL must carry out a full financial audit to identify all transactions for the use of private hire services from January 1, 2015 to date so to understand the full extent of the problem.  We cannot rely on an FOI request alone, there must a full financial audit for complete identification of all risky transactions whether as part of a corporate service contract or staff reimbursement.

2.       TfL to cooperate with UPHD to undertake immediate remedial action to ensure reimbursement of private hire drivers to ensure all are paid the London Living Wage equivalent for work previously carried out for TfL per 8.2 of the TfL Ethical Procurement Policy.

3.       TfL to cooperate with UPHD to ensure all suppliers delivering private hire services will adhere to TfL’s Ethical Procurement Policy per 7.1 and 7.2 of TfL’s Ethical Procurement Policy.

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out the obvious sensitivity of TfL’s position, not only as the buyer but also the regulator of private hire services in London. TfL must not be seen to extracting unfair benefit through the exploitation of workers it directly regulates and takes license fees from.

Mr. Mayor, I realise that on one level this is a technical procurement matter for TfL’s procurement team, but it is also a very important issue of moral leadership that I trust as Mayor you will want to personally oversee.  I know, as a strong proponent of the London Living Wage, you will want to ensure TfL procurement is promoting fair wages for all supplier workers in the capital.

We expected TfL to protect drivers from exploitation through the regulatory process and sadly that has not happened. However, we cannot accept TfL being complicit in our exploitation by failure to follow the its own Ethical Procurement Policies as set out by your office.

For convenience, I have attached the recent Employment Tribunal witness statement and judgement as well as Frank Field's report on 'Uber sweated labour' to evidence the violations we claim. I am also very happy to provide supplementary evidence from our members.

I look forward to a swift resolution.

Yours Sincerely

CC         Tim Rudin, TfL Responsible Procurement Manager
Ethical Trading Initiative