On behalf of the RideShare Drivers United group, we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas or a Happy Chanukah and, for those of other faiths and traditions, the best of the holiday season, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
As a drivers’ advocacy group, we can look back with pride and satisfaction at the accomplishments of the past year.
Notable among these was our official media blitz which was launched around January 2017 together with four log-off strikes, the first strike taking place on 27th February, aimed at changing the wrong perception the public had at the time, that Uber drivers are minting money. We exposed the real story, highlighting the grand scale workers exploitation in the press, TV, and radio. We’ve made sure the public, and most importantly the government and other decision-makers are all well aware of driver’s poor working conditions, well aware of the sweatshop being run under everyone’s noses.
We communicated with Uber management on a number of occasions during this year, (copy of our letters are available for viewing on our website) demanding better pay and conditions, including our demand to limit driving shifts to a maximum of 12 hours. Uber kept ignoring our calls at the time. This left us with no other option but to contact the FWO and ask them to intervene and examine drivers real status under the circumstances at the time.
Following our meeting June 2017, FWO initiated an investigation into Uber’s suspected sham contracting relations with its drivers. Ride Share Drivers United provided the Fair Work Ombudsman with a list of 60 full-time drivers. Drivers that wanted to take an active part in this investigation.
FWO investigation is quite complex as it covers a number of uncharted legal matters, the RSDU hope to see the matter brought to a conclusion by mid-2018. Looking at similar cases overseas in UK and USA we now expect the FWO to deliver a favorable decision to drivers and if needed take Uber to court.
As a direct result of this investigation (together with our loud media lobbying), Uber recently released some enhancements. Uber is now being forced to lift their game if they wish to continue and classify drivers as contractors. It started with the implementation of a number of app enhancements designed to give drivers more control over their daily work, a ‘No Thanks!’ button, a ‘long trips warning’. Uber also stopped penalising drivers with a 2-minute ban after they refuse more than 2 or 3 bookings. Drivers can now go online immediately after. No more 2 minutes ban!
Our constant media (creating political) pressures forced Uber to also meet our demand to limit driving shifts to no more than 12 hours. Not only our roads are safer now, it also forced Uber to increase the base rates by approximately 15% in a number of cities in Australia, to help drivers make ends meet and to still be able to meet their vehicle financial commitments. We have made sure drivers no longer have to drive 16-22 hours (or more) per day for minimum pay, now they should be able to earn just about as much in only 12 hours of driving, of course, while taking into account the new higher base rates and the extra demand that such conditions create. RSDU has helped to put the brakes on this “unlimited hours drivers slave market”.
New heavyweight rideshare operators like Taxify and Ola are starting to enter the Australian market now, a very welcome change, we are all for diversification. The RSDU will be keeping a close watch on new entrant and ensure that they too comply with fair work laws of this country and do not engage drivers in sham contracting arrangements. We will ensure operators adhere to fair working standards and pay. The RSDU will support and promote new operators that respect Australian fair work laws and pay drivers accordingly, for their time and use of vehicles.
We are proud to have been able to unite thousands of drivers during this year across the country, we could not have done this without your support and participation in the numerous industrial actions that we organised during this year, actions that received much-needed media attention and coverage. Thank you for the many support letters and feedback we receive from drivers every month, our hat is off to you!
Our joint efforts are shaping the rideshare and transportation industry in this country. We expect the entire Hire car, Taxi, Couriers etc to all be affected by our work. These are very interesting times for us all, this is your chance to take an active part in shaping the industry and creating a sustainable working environment for all drivers for years to come. The RSDU has an online forum and we welcome your opinion and feedback, please join our discussions. We also have a facebook page which you can follow.
We’re happy and proud to see our hard work starting to bring some results, driver’s conditions are starting to improve for a change, we expect much more to come in the form of helpful app features and base rates.
I hope that you and your family enjoy the festive season, please drive safely at all times.
Max B. – Head of Ride Share Drivers United