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The Stack Archive

UK Uber union outrage over compulsory UberPOOL journey-sharing

Fri 4 Dec 2015

GMB, the union that represents Uber drivers in the UK, has called on the global behemoth to reverse its recent compulsory opting-in of British drivers to the company’s new journey-sharing scheme, UberPOOL, under which drivers must be willing to transport multiple passengers rather than single fares.

In a posting, James Farrar of GMB declares that the new ruling, valid from today, should not be mandatory, citing concerns over health and safety, and quoting the email which Uber drivers received this week informing them of the transition. It’s pretty bloodless:

Good Morning Driver, Right now, all partners are being opted in to the opportunity to accept uberPOOL requests and we are not offering the option to opt out for now. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Not to worry, there is no increased risk to your safety with UberPOOL. However, if you want to let me know what your concerns are, I’d be happy to pass along your feedback.

Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Under the terms of UberPOOL, each pick-up the driver (or ‘partner’) conducts is limited to a maximum of two passengers, with a total max capacity of three passengers per ride effectively turning Uber into a micro bus service.

The posting contends the mixing of unrelated passengers could put Uber drivers in mediating situations which are unreasonable to the terms of their engagement with the company:

‘Members are greatly concerned about safety and security of themselves and passengers in a situation where multiple parties are in the car at the same time. We believe greater safeguards must be in place for ride sharing especially if passengers are vulnerable.

For instance what should a driver do in the event of a dispute, if one rider is already clearly vulnerable perhaps due to alcohol, instances of inappropriate behaviour of one party to another or if a ride share party decides to exit with first passenger and follow them home? These are just some examples of many of the safety questions raised.’

The union also expresses concern in the post regarding the percentage of take that drivers will be able to retain under UberPOOL. Until now 80% has been presumed, but GMB have called for what it claims is long overdue clarification on this issue. GMB has made a request for a meeting with Uber to discuss safety concerns arising from the UberPOOL initiative.

Uber is now challenging RyanAir and Amazon for the extent to which it is willing to endure and ‘ride out’ controversies from workers and customers alike, as any regular frequenters of the Uberpeople forum will know (despite the immense amount of astroturfing which seems to go on there). GMB has previously made complaint, along with most of North America, about the San Francisco-based company’s determination that Uber is an ‘app’ or a ‘service’ rather than an employer. Regarding this issue, GMB has stated that the automatic, non-optional opting in to UberPOOL of Uber ‘partners’ provides ‘further evidence that the drivers are directed workers under [Uber’s] management’.

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