Tuesday 22 June 2021 1:36 pm

Bolt drivers strike over workers rights snub

Drivers for ride-hailing app Bolt have this morning begun a 24-hour strike against the firm, saying that has failed to respect their rights as workers in line with the Supreme Court’s historic Uber judgement in February.

The App Drivers & Couriers Union (ACDU), which called the strike, said that it believed Bolt drivers worked under identical conditions to Uber drivers.

Thus, they should be entitled to workers rights such as minimum wage and paid annual leave, the union argue.

A Bolt spokesperson said that the firm had a different operating model to Uber and was not operating in London in 2016, when the legal case against Uber was first brought.

On immediate receipt of the judgement in February, Uber said that it only applied to 25 individuals, but it soon decided to extend workers rights to all of its drivers.

At the time, lawyers suggested the landmark ruling could trigger a wave of new legal cases against fellow “gig economy” firms.

Abdurzak Hadi, chair of ADCU London said:  “Bolt can no longer just bury its head in the sand and pretend that their drivers and our members are not entitled to the same rights as Uber drivers.

“This strike and protest is Bolt’s last chance to do the right thing, obey the law and respect their drivers.”

Hadi said the group would launch legal action if the firm did not comply with the demands. He also called for fares to be increased to at least £2 per mile and that Bolt end unfair dismissals.

In the meantime, he called for a 24 hour boycott of the app.

In response, a spokesperson for the firm said: “We maintain regular dialogue with drivers regarding many topics, through surveys, newsletters, social platforms and in-person forums. They tell us they like Bolt because it charges less commission – as low as 10 per cent for drivers with electric vehicles – resulting in higher average earnings when on a trip.

“The majority of private hire drivers who enter the industry do so for the flexible hours and freedom to choose when to drive so we don’t penalise drivers for declining trips or for accepting trips from other companies.

“We believe it’s likely that drivers will continue to be offered more choice, benefits and freedoms across operators. We will continue to proactively seek feedback – positive and negative – from all relevant parties in this regard, and carry on working with other businesses and the Government on this topic.”

 The Estonian firm operates in 40 countries around the world, and employs more than 1.5m drivers worldwide.

In the UK, it operates in London, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Leicester, Peterborough, and Wolverhampton.