ADCU dismisses Uber's pay increase announcement as a shell game scam

ADCU dismisses Uber's pay increase announcement as a shell game scam

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ADCU dismisses Uber's pay increase announcement as a shell game scam

  • Uber pay and recent pay award (if there really is one) is opaque but rate increase of 5% promised in London
  • Drivers face fuel inflation of 44%, vehicle cost inflation of 28% and 8.2% inflation cost on take home pay so Uber pay increase is unacceptable
  • New rates mean wide disparity in pay rates across the UK with Brighton drivers paid almost double the rate of pay per mile of Manchester drivers on Uber X
  • Uber margins and share price dramatically up while the proportion of the fare retained by drivers is dramatically cut
  • Union promises further industrial action against Uber due to unacceptable pay award & illegally low pay

Uber has announced to the press today that drivers would be awarded a pay increase at different rates in different markets with a 5% increase promised in the key London market. Unfortunately, the message Uber gave to drivers is somewhat different and far more ambiguous.  

In a statement issued to drivers today Uber said: "We heard loud and clear that prices don’t always feel right - it costs you more to put fuel in your tank and food on the table at the moment. But it’s not always best to have the highest rider price - high prices can lead to lower rider demand which can impact your overall earnings. That’s not what we want."

Once again, Uber is playing the time honoured confidence trick of trying to convince drivers that any increase in their rate of pay would result in a reduction of total take home pay. This is an unacceptable abdication of responsibility by Uber management and is nothing more than shell game trickery.

In truth, any increase of pay promised by Uber is entirely notional as pay has become almost completely variable regardless of the published rates. In the same announcement Uber explained:  "If you joined Uber years ago, you will have joined when prices were quite simple. We set prices based on time and distance and then surge helped increase the price when demand was highest. Uber has come a long way since then, and we now have advanced technology that uses years of data and learning to find a competitive price for the time of day, location and distance of the trip."  There is effectively little or no transparency in how pay and work is algorithmically allocated by Uber management which leaves workers  almost completely in the dark. This in itself is a violation of Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act which stipulates that all workers should have transparency to pay.

In the last year, fuel inflation has increased 44% and vehicle costs are up 28% - the main cost inputs for drivers. Net take home pay is worth 8.2% less due to general consumer price inflation.  In this context, a notional 5% pay increase, even if it were real, is not nearly sufficient. In truth, Uber has kept consumer fare prices down by exposing their workforce to the ravages of inflation on what are really Uber's own operational costs. In effect, Uber management has used drivers as a human shield against inflation leaving a vulnerable workforce exposed while shareholders prospered. Indeed, Uber reported a dramatic 2nd quarter increase in their 'take rate' from 18.7% to 26.6% over last year with the take rate defined as the share of the passenger fare Uber takes from the driver.  As a result, since announcing their financial results Uber's share price is up 41% today over the same time last month.

Uber pay rates across the UK show a wide and inexcusable variation with drivers in Brighton paid £1.45 per mile at the standard rate for UberX while drivers in Manchester are paid only 75p per mile despite drivers facing similar operating costs. Drivers in London are paid just £1.16 per mile despite having some of the highest operating costs in the UK.  The current London pay rate is significantly lower than the pay rates of 2014 when Uber paid £1.37 per mile.

Meanwhile Uber is planning to recruit another 10,000 drivers which means there will be less work available for current drivers which means even lower take home pay overall since Uber continues to refuse to pay waiting time, a violation of the Supreme Court ruling of last year.

Yaseen Aslam, ADCU President says:

"This supposed pay award is nothing more than a summer time seaside shell game scam. This pay rate adjustment is a slap in the face for Uber's 70,000 strong loyal workforce who, having sacrificed much to provide continued service during the pandemic, expected Uber to pick up their fair share of operational cost inflation.  Instead the drivers  have once again been left holding the bag. There is zero transparency at Uber as to how work is allocated and how variable pay is set. This has allowed Uber to trumpet a pay rise, boost their profits and engorge the share price while leaving drivers to face a future more bleak than ever. It cannot be right that Uber's CEO is paid £21,000 per hour while drivers in the UK still languish at below minimum wage pay rates. The ADCU will not accept this so Uber can now expect more industrial action and disruption to the service in the near future."