Uber Courts Drivers By Letting Them Pick Rides

In this file photo taken on May 08, 2019 in this pan zoom image, an Uber logo is seen outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. 

 

 

Uber on Friday said it will let drivers in the United States see trip details before deciding whether to accept them — a new feature long sought by drivers.

A common lament by drivers at the app-summoned ride platform has been that they have to accept a request before learning where trips will take them, or how profitable they will be.

“Our new trip request screen makes it easier for drivers to decide if a trip is worth their time and effort by providing all the details — including exactly how much they’ll earn and where they’re going — upfront,” chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a blog post.

Revealing details only once a driver had accepted a trip was seen as a way to ensure riders would get picked up promptly, and not be snubbed because they were headed to locations deemed undesirable by drivers.

But Khosrowshahi said drivers have made it clear that they want more flexibility and choice.

Uber said the new feature, called Upfront Fares, was tested in several cities and was a success with drivers while resulting in shorter wait times for passengers.

The ride-sharing firm will also shift from sending drivers a single ride request at a time, to letting them pick from a list of detailed passenger requests in an area.

Uber is engaged in a long-term effort to prove that its business model is socially and economy viable.

The “gig economy” — which uses temporary independent contractors for short-term tasks — has grown rapidly since Uber’s launch in 2009 and is promoted as a flexible way for people to earn money without the constraints of a full-time job.

But there has been growing backlash in countries around the world about the conditions and dangers gig workers face.

Uber driver ranks — which shrank during the Covid-19 pandemic — have not rebounded as quickly as demand for rides, and soaring fuel costs have made the gigs less attractive.

The firm in March announced a surcharge on both rides and Uber Eats meal deliveries that would go directly to drivers to help offset high fuel prices.

Uber Agrees World-First Union Deal For UK Drivers

 

 

US ride-hailing giant Uber announced Wednesday a “historic” pact with a British trade union to represent its 70,000 drivers in the UK, after a court ruling granted them workers’ rights.

The GMB union said the collective bargaining agreement “shows gig economy companies don’t have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights”.

“When tech private hire companies and unions work together like this, everyone benefits — bringing dignified, secure employment back to the world of work,” GMB official Mick Rix said in a statement.

“We now call on all other operators to follow suit.”

Uber conferred official recognition on the union — which counts 620,000 members across various industries — in the wake of a ruling by Britain’s Supreme Court in February.

A month later, Uber complied by granting its British drivers worker status with benefits including a minimum wage and paid leave.

It represented a sea change in the business model of a company that had argued before courts in Britain and elsewhere that its drivers are self-employed freelancers, and which has resisted similar reforms in California.

“Whilst Uber and GMB may not seem like obvious allies, we’ve always agreed that drivers must come first, and today we have struck this important deal to improve workers’ protections,” Uber Europe executive Jamie Heywood said.

Noting the company’s prior commitments on UK benefits, he said “this historic agreement means that Uber will be the first in the industry to ensure that its drivers also have full union representation”.

Uber said it would support drivers in Britain if they choose to sign up as GMB members, and union representatives will be given access to company support sites to encourage membership drives.

California ‘scare tactics’

The changes in Britain have come as Uber has faced sliding driver bookings owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite strong demand for its Uber Eats food delivery service during national lockdowns.

But despite the higher business costs flowing from the court ruling, Uber says it does not expect the changes to affect its net income this year.

“The future of work is too big of an issue for a one-size-fits-all solution, and that’s OK,” Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in London’s Evening Standard newspaper in March.

Khosrowshahi has previously argued for a “third way” to classify gig workers, rather than as employees or independent contractors.

The British Supreme Court ruling came soon after California’s top court upheld a referendum that let “gig workers” like Uber drivers be treated as freelance contractors.

Proposition 22 — passed in November and heavily backed by Uber, Lyft and other app-based delivery services — effectively overturned a state law requiring them to reclassify their drivers and provide employee benefits.

But US labour groups such as the Services Employees International Union have pressed on with their campaigns. The SEIU has said Uber’s decision to grant worker status to British drivers debunked the “scare tactics” of rideshare companies in California.

In a first for the European Union, Spain’s government in March announced a deal that will recognise riders working for food delivery firms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats as salaried staff following complaints about their working conditions.

In Italy, prosecutors have told Uber Eats and other food delivery platforms their couriers are employees and not independent workers, fining them 733 million euros for breach of labour safety rules.

Softbank Group Sells Uber Shares Worth $2bn

 

Japan’s SoftBank Group has sold $2 billion-worth of shares in Uber, according to a document released Monday, as it took advantage of a surge in the US ride-hailing giant’s value.

An affiliate of SoftBank’s Vision Fund sold 38 million shares for $53.46 apiece, according to a US stock filing on Uber’s website, though it still remains the firm’s main shareholder, with a 10 percent stake worth about $10 billion.

The Japanese conglomerate

SoftBank has invested heavily in ride-hailing platforms worldwide in recent years, from California-based Uber to Didi Chuxing in China, Singapore’s Grab and India’s Ola.

It’s decision to buy heavily into Uber appeared to have backfired when its price plunged following a disappointing 2019 initial public offering, before being slammed by the impact of coronavirus lockdowns devastated demand for hired transport.

By the end of March, Uber’s share price had fallen below $15, from $42 on its first day of trading in May 2019.

But the outlook has brightened considerably for such platforms as demand for food delivery booms with people still stuck at home, and the US firm’s share price has soared.

SoftBank Group’s shares rose 0.8 percent to 8,050 yen in Tokyo morning trade.

Uber To Sell Air Unit To Flying Taxi Maker

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 22, 2017 A woman poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Uber will sell off its air transport unit to flying taxi maker Joby Aviation, the company said, as it streamlines operations to navigate a ride-share market scuttled by the pandemic.

The deal will see Joby acquire Uber expertise and software, and able to offer its all-electric, vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft on the ride-hailing giant’s app.

While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, they include Uber investing $75 million into Santa Cruz-based Joby, which has said it hopes to have its flying taxis in operation as early as 2023.

The sale of Uber Elevate — dedicated to electric aircraft and delivery drones — to Joby will “accelerate the path to market” for flying taxis, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a joint release Tuesday.

READ ALSO: France Imposes 135m Euros Fine On Google, Amazon

Founded in 2009, Joby Aviation is developing a four-passenger electric aircraft that takes off and lands vertically, like a helicopter, though it has multiple rotors.

The firm envisions the aircraft as a mode of commercial transport, rather than for sale to individuals, with its pilots ferrying commuters around.

Uber said it had already invested $50 million in Joby during a fundraising round early this year.

News of the sale came shortly after Uber announced an agreement to sell its autonomous car division to Amazon and Hyundai-backed Aurora in a deal that gives it a 26 percent stake in the startup developing self-driving technology.

As part of the deal, Uber will invest $400 million in Aurora to merge the teams from both firms seeking to advance the technology for driverless ride-hailing.

The companies expect the self-driving technology to be initially put to use for long-haul trucking.

Khosrowshahi will also join the Aurora board of directors as part of the deal. The merged firm will work on the technology to be known as Aurora Driver.

Last month Uber reported that it lost $1.1 billion in the recently ended quarter as the pandemic walloped its ride-hailing business, while boosting its food delivery service.

 

AFP

Uber Wins Appeal For New Operating Licence In London

 

US ride-hailing giant Uber on Monday won an appeal hearing in Britain after London’s transport authority had refused last year to renew its operating licence on safety grounds.

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London, ruled that Uber was a “fit and proper” company to work in the British capital “despite historical failings” that had been cited by Transport for London.

More to follow . . .

PHOTOS: Uber, Bolt Drivers Protest In Abuja

Uber and Bolt Drivers Protest in Abuja Over Reduction in Commission on Monday, September 14, 2020

 

Dozens of Uber and Bolt drivers are protesting in the nation’s capital Abuja against their service providers.

The protesting drivers are calling for a review in charges for services, commissions, and proper profiling of users.

The drivers insist that charges for services in Abuja remain the lowest when compared with other cities in the country.

See Photos Below:

Uber, Bolt Drivers Protest In Abuja

 

Dozens of Uber and Bolt drivers are protesting in the nation’s capital Abuja against their service providers.

The protesting drivers are calling for a review in charges for services, commissions, and proper profiling of users.

The drivers insist that charges for services in Abuja remain the lowest when compared with other cities in the country.

According to them, the current customer profiling method by Uber and Bolt puts their members in harm’s way.

The drivers are however giving the operators of Uber and Bolts a seven-day ultimatum to address their demands or risk service withdrawal in the nation’s capital.

See Photos Below:

Uber Chief: Law Could Idle Operations In California

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 22, 2017 A woman poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Being forced to classify drivers as employees could temporarily idle Uber operations in its home state of California, the ride-sharing firm’s chief said Wednesday.

The comments from Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi to MSNBC come after a court gave Uber and rival Lyft until the middle of next week to reclassify drivers as employees instead of contract workers in compliance with a new state law.

“If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” Khosrowshahi said in the MSNBC interview.

“We’ll have to essentially shut down Uber until November when the voters decide.”

Uber and Lyft are backing a referendum in the state to overturn the law, while pledging to provide benefits for a social safety net that would keep gig workers independent

The order came Monday when a judge granted a restraining order in a lawsuit filed by California attorney general Xavier Becerra and three cities including San Francisco, where Lyft and Uber are based.

The suit calls on Lyft and Uber to comply with a state law that went into effect at the start of this year that requires “gig workers” such as smartphone-summoned ride service drivers to be classified as employees, eligible for unemployment, medical and other benefits.

Uber and Lyft expect to appeal the decision, which could buy them more time.

A backup plan for Uber would be to pause operations in California, eventually restarting with “a much smaller service, much higher prices” and probably focused in the center of cities or in suburbs,” according to Khosrowshahi.

The rideshare rivals have maintained that most of their drivers want to remain independent even if they also are looking for benefits.

 

 

-AFP

Uber Sees $1.8bn Loss As Pandemic Stalls Revenue

 

Uber on Thursday reported a $1.8 billion loss in the recently ended quarter as the pandemic caused its shared-ride business revenue to plunge.

Overall revenues skidded 29 percent from a year ago to $2.2 billion, as gains from delivery failed to offset a massive 75 percent drop in its ride-hailing bookings, San Francisco-based Uber said.

Uber shares dropped more than four percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.

“Our team continues to move at Uber speed to respond to the pandemic’s impact on our communities and on our business, leading our industry forward with new products and safety technologies, and harnessing the strong tailwinds driving exceptional growth in delivery,” chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said.

“We are fortunate to have both a global footprint and such a natural hedge across our two core segments: as some people stay closer to home, more people are ordering from Uber Eats than ever before.”

READ ALSO: Brussels Airlines Lost 182 Million Euros In Six Months

Uber’s global ride-hailing operations have been hit hard during the coronavirus lockdowns, with bookings down 75 percent and revenue declining 67 percent.

The delivery operations under Uber Eats meanwhile saw revenues more than double to $1.2 billion — and overtake rideshare revenue in the three months ending in June.

Uber has made other changes in recent months, sealing a deal for the Postmates delivery service in the US while divesting its Jump scooter and bike-sharing unit.

It has also quit some makers including Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Peru, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

Chief financial officer Nelson Chai said the company was on track to achieve profitability, on an adjusted basis excluding debt and other costs, by the end of 2021.

AFP

California Sues Uber, Lyft For Driver Wage Theft

In this file photo taken on April 16, 2020, a protestor displays a sign as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the Transport Workers Union of America prepare to conduct a caravan protest outside the California Labor Commissioners office amidst the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 16, 2020, a protestor displays a sign as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the Transport Workers Union of America prepare to conduct a caravan protest outside the California Labor Commissioners office amidst the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

California has filed lawsuits against Uber and Lyft for alleged wage theft by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said Wednesday.

Classifying their drivers as independent contractors “has deprived these workers of a host of legal protections in violation of California labor law,” the office said in a statement.

Under a California law that came into effect on January 1, workers are considered employees unless they are free from the company’s control and perform work outside its usual line of business.

The law challenges the business model of the San Francisco-based rideshare platforms and others which depend on workers taking on “gigs” as independent contractors.

California’s lawsuits seek to recover amounts owed to all Uber and Lyft drivers, including nearly 5,000 drivers who have filed claims for owed wages, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said.

“The Uber and business model rests on the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors,” California labor commissioner Lilia García-Brower said.

“This leaves workers without protections such as paid sick leave and reimbursement of drivers’ expenses, as well as overtime and minimum wages.”

Uber and Lyft each have around 100,000 drivers, the Labor Commissioner’s Office said.

Uber has long argued it is merely a platform linking self-employed drivers with riders.

“The vast majority of California drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under state law,” Uber spokesman Davis White said in a statement quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

“When 3 million Californians are without a job, our leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry.”

Uber’s core ride-sharing operations have been hit hard by the global pandemic. The firm is due to announce its second-quarter results on Thursday.

Uber and Lyft have faced several legal challenges over their business models.

In May, California sued both firms alleging they violated a state law by classifying drivers as contractors instead of employees.

The new lawsuits go further by claiming recovery of unpaid wages, penalties and damages for drivers.

DoorDash, a food delivery platform, is also being sued by San Francisco for illegally classifying workers as contractors.

California’s state court is expected to rule Thursday on a preliminary injunction compelling Uber and Lyft to reclassify drivers as employees.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are backing a ballot initiative in November’s election which would classify rideshare drivers and other gig-economy workers as independent contractors.

“We believe the courts should let the voters decide,” Lyft spokeswoman Julie Wood told CNN Business.

Uber Lays Off 3,000 More Employees

In this file photo taken on May 08, 2019 in this pan zoom image, an Uber logo is seen outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. PHOTO: AFP

Uber on Monday announced it is cutting a quarter of its global workforce and trimming investment to survive the financial hit to its business from the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company is laying off about 3,000 people and stopping some investments unrelated to its core ride-share and delivery businesses, according to chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

“Given the dramatic impact of the pandemic, and the unpredictable nature of any eventual recovery, we are concentrating our efforts on our core mobility and delivery platforms and resizing our company to match the realities of our business,” Khosrowshahi said.

AFP

California Sues Uber and Lyft For Tagging Drivers ‘Contractors’

 

In this file photo taken on April 16, 2020, a protestor displays a sign as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the Transport Workers Union of America prepare to conduct a caravan protest outside the California Labor Commissioners office amidst the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California.  MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 16, 2020, a protestor displays a sign as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the Transport Workers Union of America prepare to conduct a caravan protest outside the California Labor Commissioners office amidst the coronavirus pandemic in Los Angeles, California. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

California on Tuesday sued rideshare operators Uber and Lyft for “misclassifying” drivers as contractors instead of employees in violation of a state law.

The suit, joined by the state’s large municipalities, seeks to require the companies to compensate drivers and pay penalties that could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“California has ground rules with rights and protections for workers and their employers,” attorney general Xavier Becerra said in a release.

“We intend to make sure that Uber and Lyft play by the rules.”

The suit will test a law that took effect in California this year.

The cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego joined the state in the complaint.

Officials said the classification requirements would not prevent the ride-hailing operators to offer flexible work arrangements to drivers.

“There is no legal reason why Uber and Lyft can’t have a vast pool of employees who decide for themselves when and where they work — exactly as drivers do now,” San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a release.

“These companies simply don’t want to do it. Uber and Lyft are selling a lie. They are lying to the public and lying to their drivers.”

Ride-hailing giant Uber and delivery company Postmates in December challenged the new law that calls for gig-economy freelancers to be considered employees as unconstitutional.

The legislation, known as Assembly Bill 5, means that — under certain conditions — independent contractors are classified as employees to be covered under minimum wage and benefit rules.

This would include drivers for Uber, Lyft, Postmates and other internet platforms that use apps to enable people with cars to provide rides or make deliveries to those willing to pay for such services.

Uber was adamant last year that it would oppose any change of status for its drivers, which would add to its costs.

Uber and its American rival Lyft have each put aside 30 million dollars to organize a referendum, allowed under Californian law, to replace the legislation with a compromise on social rights.

Drivers are divided between those who want the same security as employees and those who want the flexibility of being able to choose the hours they work.

 

AFP