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Call for Uber crackdown in Oz as London ban looms

September 28, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

As ride-sharing company Uber lodges an appeal against a looming ban in London, demands are rising for greater scrutiny of its operations elsewhere, including in Australia.

After the shock decision by Transport for London (TfL) to strip Uber of its licence to operate as a taxi service in the British capital from this Saturday (see: Want to ride Uber in London? Better do it this week!) the company’s appeal should give it a further 21 days in which it can continue to operate.

TfL was unhappy with the level of cooperation with authorities over driver checks and alleged sex attacks on passengers. Allegations of failure by the company  to report sexual assaults to police have surfaced elsewhere.

John Colley, professor of practice and associate dean of Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick, said so-called “greyball” software, designed to mislead authorities by preventing them from making checks on drivers, had also raised concerns.

“Uber appears to be struggling to understand that higher standards of behaviour are expected from large businesses compared to start-ups,” Colley said.

“Once upon a time, Uber may have passed below the radar. But with 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million customers [in London], they are a significant business, and attract significant attention.”

In Australia, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) has demanded that state and federal governments conduct a co-ordinated audit of Uber’s Australian operations.

The TWU claimed that TfL had determined Uber was not “fit and proper” because the company had failed to report “serious criminal offences”. TfL had also been concerned about the company’s background checks.

TWU National Secretary, Tony Sheldon, said a co-ordinated, Australia-wide audit of Uber would help bring it up to community standard by exposing the operator to appropriate scrutiny and regulation.

“We want Uber to continue operating in Australia, but only if it can meet community expectations about safety and fairness, both for drivers and consumers,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon has written to state and federal transport ministers to seek a nationwide audit of Uber, co-ordinated by the Council of Australian Governments.

“Uber’s business model relies on outpacing regulators, but as the London experience shows, this is ultimately self-defeating. The audit we are proposing here in Australia is designed to save Uber from eating itself.

“We are all for ride sharing platforms, but they must not be built on poor safety, weak oversight and exploitation of drivers.

“COAG should include food delivery services such as Foodora, Deliveroo and of course Uber Eats in its audit.

“Technology is no excuse for trashing community standards such as safety and legal payment of workers. A close look at Uber and similar companies is long overdue.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Uber provides an excellent service in Sydney, something I cannot say for the cabs. I’ve been using Uber for around five years but thought I’d give the cabs another try due to the new taxi app called Rydo. Guess what? First cab, booked a week earlier, failed to show and nobody from the cab company called. Their own staff said the service was crap, and I had to fork out a $20 advance tip just to get a driver to take a job from Frenchs Forest to White Bay. Second attempt, a local job from Frenchs Forest to Chatswood. Driver accepted the job and after waiting a while and watching him approach on the app, he suddenly dropped out of the job completely, no doubt having found something better. U’m back to Uber.

    Sorry, the service provided by Sydney cab companies is a word that I would not write in a forum. Uber arrives quickly, has mostly pleasant drivers, and their vehicles are clean and comfortable. I’ve had Citroens, BMWs, Audis, VWs and the like. The only problem Uber has is the number of crap cab drivers who are moving across to Uber. Some are the people who gave taxis a bad name. I’ve never felt insecure or unsafe in an Uber but I sure as heck have in some taxis.

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