Uber drivers in Manchester angry over ‘sweatshop conditions’ after fares cut

Drivers say decision to cut fares left them earning below minimum wage

Drivers for the smartphone cab service Uber have claimed they are being employed under “sweatshop conditions” as they launched a protest against a move to drastically reduce fares.

The drivers in Manchester, dozens of whom protested outside the firm’s office in the city, said the decision to cut fares there had been made without concern for their welfare and left them earning below the minimum wage.

They have now written to Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese asking for a “crisis meeting” to discuss the “sweatshop conditions” amid claims some are having to work 90 hours week to make ends meet.

Uber said the average 14 per cent reduction in fares had led to higher demand for the service and average hourly payments for drivers had increased by 8 per cent.

Yaseen Aslam, co-founder of United Private Hire Drivers, the UK’s largest organisation for the private-hire trade, said: “Uber drivers are earning well below minimum wage and are having to work excessive and unsafe hours to meet their costs and earn enough to support their families.”

The US-based firm has transformed the taxi business since it was launched in 2008. Customers use a mobile phone app to book and pay for their ride, which has angered black-cab drivers who say it undercuts their business.

Ahmed Nurein, chairman of the Manchester Private Hire Drivers’ Forum, said: “Manchester City Council must not close their eyes to unsafe, sweatshop conditions as meted out to drivers by Uber.”

Mustafa Khanbhai, general manager of Uber in Manchester, said: “We want the thousands of drivers who use our app to have more fare-paying passengers in their car for each hour on the road. That’s why fares were reduced in the city.”

source: http://www.independent.co.uk/