Union asks Uber users to join strike and protest at London HQ

Uber strike New York, US - August 23, 2015. Uber car service on the streets of New York at Night. With selective focus on Uber logo.

A trade union has asked Uber UK customers to participate in a 24-hour strike of the ride-hailing service and join a protest outside the Silicon Valley company’s London headquarters. The strike and protest is in response to the Uber files, a series of damaging leaks that revealed how the Silicon Valley firm pursued an aggressive expansion plan in Britain.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), which represents gig economy workers, has called for strike action among its drivers to take place on Wednesday. It has asked customers to assist by not booking trips using the Uber app during that time.

ADCU said it is organising a protest outside Uber’s UK headquarters in Aldgate Tower, London. The union also invited users of the app to join the London protest. The protest, which is demanding increased pay and better working conditions, is expected to begin at around 12 PM.

The planned strike and protest are the latest blow to Uber. It has faced fierce criticism after 124,000 documents leaked to the Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed sustained efforts by the company to lobby British politicians during a period of rapid UK expansion.

Among the revelations from the leak were undisclosed meetings between Uber lobbyists and government officials, including former Chancellor George Osborne, who denies any impropriety.

While this is not the first union action against Uber, the leaked files have reignited longstanding complaints of drivers.

ADCU was part of the landmark victory against Uber last year when the UK supreme court ruled the company must consider its drivers as employees, rather than self-employed contractors.

The ruling was intended to grant drivers in the UK workers’ rights, including holiday pay and minimum wage.

ADCU has said, however, that Uber is interpreting drivers’ hours in such a way that unfairly limits the time they can be considered working.

The union has recommended an increase in fares of £2.50 a mile and 20p a minute, to increase the amount made in the maximum 15% commission from drivers.

“The ADCU represents a tiny proportion of active drivers on Uber,” said a spokesperson for Uber.

“For over a year now, GMB union has served as the voice of drivers in the UK following our historic recognition agreement which helped secure new worker protections including holiday pay and access to a pension plan.”

Uber claimed in June to be “the only major ride-hailing platform in the UK to offer drivers worker benefits”.