The drivers demonstrated outside Uber’s UK headquarters in London on Monday after being permanently sacked through “opaque” processes with no possibility of appeal.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) organized the protest outside the Aldgate Tower after being contacted by around 200 drivers and couriers for major platforms in the concert economy, including Deliveroo, Uber and the Stuart courier company.
Drivers say companies have disabled their accounts, terminating their jobs, without notice and often with little explanation. In many cases, action has been taken following customer complaints that drivers believe were unfounded.
They believe they have been unfairly terminated and demand that the platforms put in place a fair and transparent termination process, in accordance with the guidelines of the labor arbitration service Acas.
IWGB’s private driver branch also wants workers who have been unfairly dismissed to be reinstated.
Deliveroo rejected the allegations, which he described as “inaccurate”. The company said any driver whose account was closed would first have received an email warning about their driving with recommendations on how to improve.
“The notifications also warn riders that further violations could spell the end of their contract,” the company said. “A decision to terminate a contract is only made if such behavior persists after such notification.”
Uber and Stuart did not respond to requests for comment.
Labor said it was “shameful” that hundreds of key workers lost their livelihoods without a proper process.
Legally, private drivers and couriers are categorized as “worker members”, which means that they are not protected against unfair dismissal except in cases of discrimination.
Uber driver George Ibekwe said he became depressed after his account was deactivated following a customer complaint.
“I have not had an explanation or the opportunity to respond to the complaint that led to my deactivation,” he said.
I have debts to pay, a family to support and a car finance contract to pay, and my livelihood has been taken away from me. My despair has spread throughout my family. Uber cannot continue to treat us drivers in this way.
Former Deliveroo runner Edson said he felt “hurt” when Deliveroo deactivated his account. “I worked in the rain, whatever the weather, Monday through Sunday, twelve hours a day,” he said.
“When they fired me, saying I wasn’t delivering within a reasonable time, I felt like I was disposable to them.”
In November, 72 MPs signed an Early Day Motion condemning the “opaque and unfair” processes used by companies like Uber and Deliveroo to effectively dismiss their posts.
MPs called on all app-based companies to implement fair dismissal processes, including a pre-dismissal hearing, and the right to appeal a dismissal with union representation.
Ian Byrne, who tabled the motion, had made it “routine” for companies in the gig economy to lay off drivers.
“It is shameful that hundreds of key workers have lost their livelihoods without notice and without a fair process over the past year, plunging workers and their families into poverty,” he said.
“Uber and the others need to clean up their act, and as a country we need much tougher protections in place to prevent gig economy companies from getting away with treating their workers like throwaway.”
Alex Marshall, IWGB President and former courier, said: “Dismissals at the touch of a button without due process are just another way the odd job economy is rigged against workers.
“Still treated as disposable even after being key workers during a pandemic, what other choice do they have but to fight back? We are with them every step of the way.
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This notice was published: 2021-07-27 00:23:12