City Hall politician warns Bolt of licence issues if workers’ conditions not improved
A leading City Hall politician has warned ride-sharing app Bolt it could be barred from operating in the capital unless it improved its drivers’ pay and conditions.
Labour transport lead Elly Baker has tweeted that Bolt should give its workers “the rights they deserve,” otherwise it would face “serious questions over its licence to operate in London.”
“We must have a level-playing field on private hire licensing in London,” the City Hall politician added. “For the good of drivers and passengers!”
Baker’s words were echoed by a spokesperson for the mayor, who said Sadiq Khan has urged “other employers in the gig economy to follow suit in order to help improve employment standards across London and the UK.”
The ride-hailing company is currently facing two class action lawsuits as drivers have called on the Estonian company to give them employee status – including access to paid holiday and pensions.
Law firm Leigh Day filed a claim in early October on behalf of more than 1,600 workers, while GMB is currently representing six people.
The lawsuits come after the UK’s Supreme Court ruled against rival Uber last year, forcing it to give its drivers the same benefits as in-house staff and setting a legal precedent.
According to the union GMB, the Supreme Court’s decision – which was applied to all of Uber UK’s 70,000 drivers – cost the company an estimated £300m.
Baker said Bolt should adopt the standards implemented by rivals unless it wanted to face “serious questions over its licence to operate in London.”
“We need to end the race to the bottom on terms and conditions led by companies like Bolt,” GMB’s national organiser Martin Smith added.
A Bolt spokesperson told City A.M. that, unlike Uber, its operating model gives drivers “higher earnings per trip and more flexibility.”
“We operate in a highly competitive market to attract drivers so it is in our interests to operate a model that works best for them; if not, they will go elsewhere,” they said.