Global protests against ride share giant Uber have been held in Australia, where drivers are calling for government intervention to ensure fair pay and better conditions.
The Transport Works Union on Wednesday delivered a list of claims to Uber offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, where placard-wielding activists also gathered, vowing to reject the company’s “corporate thuggery”.
“This company is notorious for its exploitation around the world,” union spokesman Tony Sheldon told the gathering in Melbourne.
“They don’t want fairness, they want to call the shots by ripping off taxes, ripping off drivers and not being transparent to people who are using their services.”
In a statement, Uber highlighted the importance of its workers.
“Drivers are at the heart of our service – we can’t succeed without them – and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road,” a spokesperson said.
The company pointed to its release late last year of “improved” safety and insurance provisions for drivers, along with an app for workers to track their earnings and target the highest-grossing times to work.
Mr Sheldon said “this is just a part-time job” and that some Uber employees are working up to 90 hours a week to make ends meet.
“This company demands that people invest in their vehicles so they take out loans, and yet at the whim of the company, without any explanation, literally you can turn up to work the following morning and find yourself deactivated.”
Protests and strikes are also taking place the US, UK, France, Brazil, Nigeria and Chile.
“Drivers around the world are getting ripped off,” Mr Sheldon said.
“Now the loss-making Uber says drivers can expect things to get worse as it tries to encourage investors to buy its shares. For drivers this is a disaster and means they will struggle even further.”
The rally called for greater government regulation of ride-share services, noting that in Victoria an investigation is underway into the ‘on-demand’ sector.
DEMANDS FROM RIDERS AND DRIVERS
* Right to negotiate terms of work contracts
* Acceptable rates of pay
* A lower Uber commission percentage
* Income insurance
* Independent tribunal to handle driver and passenger complaints.