Uber – giving worker’s rights a bad name
It’s not often a product or service revolutionises an industry, but with the rise in smart technology businesses are increasingly moving towards virtual solutions. This has seen the rise of companies like Airbnb, Just Eat, and most recently Uber.
Unfortunately, an increase in businesses where their model includes not owning the product that is being hired out, or not employing the people who operate your business, means that naturally there will be concerns over quality control, and the rights of your workforce. Famously this is exactly what has happened to Uber who’ve now had their right to operate in London revoked by TfL.
There are things to both be applauded, and to be disappointed by in TfL’s reaction. The rights of workers – employees or not – should be at the forefront of an organisation’s ethos, as should customer service. It would seem that Uber have neglected this duty, and it’s only right that TfL recognise and action this as they have done.
However, as a business owner, I also find it enormously disappointing that a company that offers a much more 21st century, cost effective, comfortable and practical solution to the outdated and comparatively archaic ‘black cab’ should have its innovation stifled so definitely. There are already so many barriers to running a business in the UK, and if you ask the average Londoner what their thoughts on Uber are, they would tell you how they like to be able to order, track and pay for their taxi via their mobile, and pay considerably less for the privilege. If a product like Uber can’t make it, what hope do we have for the rest of us?
It’s therefore a shame that Londoners have been stripped of such a beneficial service due to something as fundamental, yet easily corrected, as worker’s rights.
To me there are two big things to take from this series of events. Firstly, I think TfL should be a little more open to innovation. I’m not saying they should condone some of the poor treatment of workers, or terrible experiences customers have had…they shouldn’t. But a little recognition that banning Uber inconveniences 8 million Londoners, and may put 40,000 drivers out of work wouldn’t go amiss. Perhaps a more logical solution would have been to work with Uber to improve their worker’s rights for the sake of all concerned parties, whilst renewing Uber’s contract on a short-term basis and putting some close performance measures in place while Uber rectify their issues.
The second thing to take from this is the importance of people. Ultimately, it’s a perception of the unfair treatment and lack of management of the worker that has created these issues. Good, appropriate staff management isn’t difficult or expensive, but the ramifications of not managing workers properly is huge, as Uber have inadvertently shown. There’s also the moral obligation that we as members of the human race have to each other, to treat one another with dignity, respect and fairness. In my opinion, this is very much the crux of the issue, and is a lesson we can all learn.
I sincerely hope that in future, Uber will resolve their issues around workers and be able to operate in London again, as it’s a great shame to see something so good not succeed.