Uber paused its services in Brussels this morning, in what the ride-hailing giant described as an “unprecedented” joint action with its drivers against the local government’s ban on using smartphones when driving.
In a blog post to customers, Uber said its app and rides were temporarily suspended in protest against the Brussels government’s lack of reform action on the “outdated” legal framework, despite having “repeatedly promised” to draft a reform.
Uber said the government had promised last March to update the rules by this summer, but no reforms had been introduced as the country enters Autumn.
Current “regulations were drafted in 1995 and include very outdated measures such as the prohibition for drivers to use a smartphone,” Uber said in a post announcing the disruption to its services.
“As a result, drivers who use the Uber app to drive you to your destination receive fines and risk having their vehicles taken away.”
The ride hailing company said it was striking “at drivers’ request and in solidarity with them”, in a move that marked a change from most recent action that has seen Uber receive widespread criticism over drivers’ employee rights.
Uber made an “exceptional and unprecedented” stand with its drivers, who it said “fear for their work and are worried for their future,” while it appealed to customers to pile pressure on local authorities.
“Without a reform now, as a rider, you may not have the same mobility opportunities as today anymore,” it said in the statement.