POLITICS

Uber Drivers Forced To Pay For Sweets For Customers, MPs Told

'Expensive for us, cheap for the public.'

06/02/2017 18:18 | Updated 06 February 2017
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Uber drivers told MPs they had been forced to pay for sweets and water for customers in order to compete for ratings.

They told the Commons Work and Pensions Committee on Monday that Uber bullied drivers, paid below the minimum wage, and put employees’ heath and safety at risk.

They said the company had added a system for customers to give feedback on whether the car was “fully stocked” with snacks.

But they said drivers were expected to pay for the snacks themselves.

Uber driver David Dunn told the Committee: “It’s expensive for us and cheap for the public.”

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Sajid Javid

MPs heard Uber drivers had to work up to 50 hours a week just to break even after paying their running costs, and there were no safety checks for employees on particularly long shifts.

Dunn said Uber was also in the habit of “bullying drivers” by docking their wages without telling them after customer complaints. 

This follows a report published in December which said the company treated its drivers as Victorian-style “sweated labour”. 

The report, by MP Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, was based on the testimony of dozens of drivers, and found many took home significantly less than the minimum wage.

It compared conditions to those of labourers in the Victorian era “...when earnings were barely sufficient to sustain existence, hours of labour were such as to make lives of workers periods of ceaseless toil; and conditions were injurious to the health of workers and dangerous to the public.”

A Government spokesman said in response to the report: “Taxis and private hire vehicles provide a vital service for many people and businesses across the country. We are committed to supporting the industry, with safety a priority.

“We are keen to ensure our employment rules keep up to date to reflect new ways of working, and that’s why we have asked the Royal Society for the Arts chief executive, Matthew Taylor, to conduct an independent review into modern working practices.”

A spokesperson for Uber said:

“Tens of thousands of people in the UK drive with Uber precisely because they want to be self-employed and their own boss. The overwhelming majority of drivers who use the Uber app want to keep the freedom and flexibility of being able to drive when and where they want.”

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