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Drivers demand accountability from Uber, governments, unions and policy makers after latest scandal

Ejaz Butt, Secretary of the IAATW Photo: IAATW

The International Association of App-Based Transport Workers (IAATW) has issued a media release in response to “The Uber Files.” The Canadian version of the release is posted here, while the original PDF is posted below:

(July 12, 2022) — The recent disclosure of thousands of memos and emails on Uber’s internal operations reveal the ugly underbelly of the app-based transport industry that has compromised legal and ethical standards in order to gain market share.

As affiliates of a global federation of app-based drivers who work for Uber and other platform transportation companies, we stand together and demand that lawmakers take action on Uber, a company that broke laws intentionally, put lives at risk through flagrant disregard of safety to drivers and passengers, and continues to operate in dangerous and callous ways.

These revelations are no surprise. Drivers have seen these dangerous practices by corporate leaders for years.

“I am not shocked at what has been revealed by the Uber Files. I experienced that everyday so why would I be surprised?” said Ejaz Butts, Secretary of The International Alliance of App-based Transport Workers (IAAWT).

“If there is anything I feel on reading all the details it is simply that I am also now appalled by the number of people who participated and continued to participate in this criminal violation of the rights of workers and ordinary people.”

Uber has made no break with the original and dangerous mission highlighted by these files: they still operate by breaking laws, risking lives of drivers & passengers, all to win market share. There is no ‘re-made’ Uber. Uber has long tried to say ‘We are not the Uber of the early days,’ but even a cursory examination of what Uber is currently doing to its drivers makes it clear that it continues practices that are meant to brutally exploit drivers at sub-minimum level wages and unsafe working conditions.

Uber must be held accountable for the human suffering they have already caused through their illegal business model: In cities across the world – – from New York to Mumbai and beyond – – countless drivers have committed suicide, descended into depression and ended up in debt.

In addition to human suffering, there has been irreparable damage to urban transportation systems and urban economies by the destructive acts of a company ripping off drivers and passengers, operating outside of the law. We demand that governments across the world appoint commissions of inquiry, hold Congressional / Parliamentary hearings, constitute committees of elected representatives and execute other institutional methods to hold Uber and other app companies accountable.

Such a process would not only ensure public accountability but prepare the ground for putting into place appropriate regulatory infrastructure that would lift labour standards for drivers, and safety for all.

No More Deals That Sell Out Drivers

The leaked documents reveal a systemic pattern of compromised political leaders, scholars and policy makers. Such a pattern of compromise is just as true of numerous unions and other organizations that have sold drivers out and given Uber cover.

We urge the labor movement to unify around the highest labor standards and put an end to yellow company unions and all such activity that lowers labor standards.

“There is no secret anymore. We expect Uber to keep sugar-coating its image, but actors in government, universities, the labor movement, and think-tanks are just as culpable. This must end. A unified labour movement that sets its sights on the highest standards for workers will win this fight,” says Butts.