Tuesday 9 October 2018 11:45 am

Last call: Uber drivers to stage 24hr strike in London today


Hundreds of Uber drivers are set to stage a 24-hour walkout across London today, in addition to protests in Nottingham and Birmingham, over workers' rights and demands for increased wages.

The strike is being organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), and is scheduled to begin at 1pm. A separate demonstration is also expected to be held outside Uber's offices in Aldgate.

"After years of watching take home pay plummet and with management bullying of workers on the rise, workers have been left with no choice but to take strike action," said IWGB's private hire drivers' branch chair James Farrar. 

"We ask the public to please support drivers by not crossing the digital picket line by not using the app during strike time."

IWGB said Uber's classification of drivers as "independent contractors" is unfair, and instead has called on the ride-hailing firm to implement the rulings of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) which meet minimum wage and paid holiday requirements.

Read more: Uber UK revenue climbs to £59m but company warns over driver court battle

Uber is currently fighting the EAT decision in court, which it warned on Sunday could hurt its future finances. The next Court of Appeal hearing is scheduled for 30 and 31 October.

IWGB is also calling for an increase in fares from £1.25 to £2 per mile in London, in addition to a 10 per cent reduction in commissions paid to Uber by drivers.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has thrown his weight behind the union, retweeting the strike's announcement on Twitter and adding: "I support this strike for better employment rights and urge others to respect the app picket line."

An Uber spokesperson said: "We are always looking to make improvements to ensure drivers have the best possible experience and can make the most of their time driving on the app. That's why over the last few months we’ve introduced dozens of new features, including sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections.

"An academic study last month found that drivers in London make an average of £11 an hour, after accounting for all of their costs and Uber’s service fee. We continue to look at ways to help drivers increase their earnings and our door is always open if anyone wants to speak to us about any issues they're having."

Drivers for Uber's food delivery service Uber Eats and competitor app Deliveroo staged their own walkout last week over gig economy pay.

Read more: Uber Eats riders and restaurant workers to strike over gig economy pay