Monday, 13 February 2023

Revisionist Uber histories

Uber drivers have initiated collective bargaining in NZ.

BusinessDesk reports on it, along with a bit of revisionist history from the union:

"Uber muscled into our country in 2014 without a second thought about employment law or the rights of the people working for them, and drivers are long overdue some agency in their lives."

Recall that Uber 'muscled in' on NZ's archaic taxicab regulations, not on our labour laws. Before Uber, drivers had had to sign up with one of the small number of companies providing 24-hour dispatch. Not exactly a scenario that's friendly to drivers. 

Remember too that Uber has to compete for driver-partners with other ride-share companies, and with existing cab companies. 

Bill Rama, an Uber driver and First Union delegate, said drivers were paid on average less than the minimum wage, and only for about 50% of the hours they work. He said the company also took no responsibility for the safety of its drivers or its passengers.

We've had an incredibly overheated labour market. Does it seem likely that Uber's forcing people into sub-minimum-wage work? 

Here's MBIE's job vacancy index for unskilled work.

If Uber was able to keep driver-partners through the 2021-22 period when the thing was hotter than it had ever been, doesn't that kinda suggest that those drivers weren't being exploited?

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