One month after Uber lost a legal battle in the UK that started off in 2016, over drivers’ status, the US firm says it will give its 70,000 drivers in the UK a guaranteed minimum wage, paid holidays and even pensions.
The ride-hailing giant said drivers would earn at least the UK’s minimum Wage, paid to the over-25s, of £8.72 an hour. Uber representatives told the BBC it did not expect the change in drivers’ conditions to result in higher fares. Bates Wells lawyer Rachel Mathieson, who represented Uber drivers fighting for worker rights, called it “a very significant milestone”.
In UK’s Supreme Court hearing, Uber had argued it was a third-party booking agent, and its drivers were self-employed but the court ruled its drivers were workers, a category that means they are entitled to minimum legal wage, holiday and pension rights. The company is being challenged by its drivers in multiple countries over whether they should be classed as workers or self-employed.
The company said the new rates would come on top of free insurance to cover sickness, injury and maternity and paternity payments which have been in place for all drivers since 2018.
While workers and union leaders in the UK have won a major battle against the tech giant, dynamics in Pakistan are a lot more complicated than that because the minimum wage in the country (2020-2021) is currently set at Rs17,500 a month which is far below the recommended Rs25,000/month.
Uber drivers cannot simply demand the company to pay them the minimum wage for the number of hours and amount of work they are putting in since it’s barely enough for a living.
Moreover, most of the uber drivers in Pakistan don’t actually own the vehicles that they drive, they are mere drivers hired on a monthly basis and paid even less than the minimum wage in the country. The vehicle owners sometimes take away their hard-earned bonuses as well and only pay them after deducting the fuel, maintenance cost and profit for themselves.
These vulnerable drivers are the ones the company should take care of in order to make their platform beneficial for not just the middle and upper middle class but also the underprivileged ones.