I am a proud to represent a highly entrepreneurial constituency and a perfect example of that spirit is those that work for the app-based taxi firm Uber. I am a big supporter of the famous and well-established London black taxis as well as newer companies like Uber; I think there is room and a role for both in London. I certainly do not agree with London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s short-sighted attempts to simply ban Uber from London – I think it shows he is out of touch with most Londoners and weak in the face of pressure from the unions.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of meeting a group of Uber drivers (pictured) that live in my constituency at a local restaurant to hear about their work, their thoughts on their jobs, the state of current regulation, and the future. It was a very interesting evening and nice to get so many Uber drivers in one place without causing a traffic jam! It was also pleasing to learn of the benefits package offered by Uber to their drivers, which includes discounts from car manufacturers, discounted insurance, and sick pay.
Some people have, rightly, raised concerns about the relatively low level of employment rights associated with jobs like those offered by Uber – the so-called ‘gig economy’. In response, the Government commissioned the Taylor Review to explore these issues and make recommendations. One of the key recommendations made, which the Government has accepted, is that those who work for app-based companies should be reclassified as ‘dependent contractors’ (essentially regular workers) and therefore qualify for the same rights as enjoyed by most people in the workplace. This will boost security offered by work-based rights, while maintaining the flexibility which the Uber drivers I met value so highly.
Another issue that has received a lot of coverage recently is that of safety – for both customers and drivers. It is vital that all transport operators meet the high standards we expect to ensure a safe and quality service for all passengers and drivers - Uber should be no different. There is definitely room for the company to improve to make life better and safer for everyone. I do welcome the steps that the company is taking in this regard and will be following progress closely.