Monday, 15 October, 2018

Uber dispute in London mirrors deep economic, political disagreements in Britain

Uber petition 500,000 people have signed Uber petition 500,000 people have signed
Lamar Ellis | 24 September, 2017, 01:55

The London mayor, who backed TfL's decision on Friday, said Uber had "let down their drivers and customers" by failing to act as a "fit and proper operator".

In most remaining cities, Uber offers a range of private hire services using locally licensed drivers that include its mainstream service UberX, its up-scale UberBlack cars and other niche services including UberVan, UberGreen and UberExec.

More than 515,000 people entered their names by 1200 GMT on Saturday in support of the US -based company, which urged users to sign in order to keep its cars on London roads.

The taxi firm, used by 3.5m people and 40,000 drivers in London, has been refused a new license by Transport for London (TfL) which said it was "not fit and proper" to operate, with Mayor Sadiq Khan insisting that companies must "play by the rules".

Only in two cities across the region - Berlin and Athens - does Uber offer rides with officially licensed taxi drivers which allow passengers to hail UberTaxis as they pass on the street.

Mr Khan said in a Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB - news) post that he fully supported TfL's decision.

A Bradford Council spokesperson said on Friday afternoon: "We will continue to monitor Uber's licence to operate in the district, as we do with all operators".

Its smartphone app connects passengers and licensed private hire drivers in real time using GPS positioning, which enables customers to track a vehicle on screen as it approaches to pick them up.

A petition calling on TfL to reverse its decision not to renew Uber's London licence reached half a million signatories just after midday today.

Unions have raised concerns about such companies treating workers as contractors rather than staff, often resulting in them losing out on rights such as minimum wage and holiday pay.

"Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers".

City officials cited Uber's use of a secret software tool called "Greyball" that the company built to avoid regulators.

As things stand, Uber will not have a licence to operate in the capital after September 30.

The mayor acknowledged the popularity of Uber in the capital but said "it would be wrong for TfL to license Uber if there was any way this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety or security".

Post-Kalanick woesThe loss of the San Francisco-based start-up's licence comes after a tumultuous few months that led to former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick being forced out.

London police also complained in a letter in April that Uber was either not disclosing, or taking too long to report, serious crimes, including sexual assaults, and this put the public at risk.

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