A Union is Threatening Legal Action Over Uber's Licence in London

By Tom Pritchard on at

Uber's really, really not having a great time of it. Now it's facing some legal threats from the GMB Union regarding the renewal of its operating licence with TfL.

GMB sent a legal letter to Transport for London earlier this week, warning that it will be taking action should the transport authority renew Uber's licence without first guaranteeing more rights for its drivers. The union wants TfL to impose new conditions that would guarantee income for Uber driver, as well as limit the hours they can work and how many are allowed to operate within the city. Not doing so would "breach the relevant standards of reasonableness and would accordingly be unlawful."

GMB argues that Uber's business model necessitates that drivers work excessive hours, at the risk of their own health and the safety of others on the road. The dispute is set to be solved by arbitration and GMB wants TfL to limit's Uber's new licence to six months, rather than a full five years, while the situation is dealt with.

This threat comes shortly after GMB, Uber drivers, and the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (which represents London's black cab drivers) called for minimum employment rights and better regulation of private hire operators within the city. Last year also saw an employment tribunal rule that Uber drivers were workers and could not be classified as self-employed. Uber is appealing against that ruling, and no doubt it will have some things to say about GMB's latest action.

An Uber spokesperson told The Guardian:

"Millions of Londoners rely on Uber to get a reliable ride at the touch of a button and thousands of licensed drivers make money through our app. Almost all taxi and private hire drivers in the UK have been self-employed for decades and with Uber they have more control over what they do. Drivers who use Uber are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive with no shifts, minimum hours or uniforms. Last year drivers using our app made average fares of £15 per hour and were logged in for an average of 30 hours per week."

When asked to comment on the situation by the paper, TfL said that it did not comment on individual licence applications. [The Guardian]

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