Transport for London has announced that the company’s license will not be renewed beyond September, citing Uber’s “approach to reporting serious criminal offenses”.
Uber even continued to employ a driver involved in a sexual assault, before the same driver attacked yet another woman.
Black cabbie drivers are predominantly white British men according to Transport for London (TfL), whereas Uber drivers are mostly Muslim migrants. A few months ago Uber announced it would offer English courses for its UK workers after facing criticism over lack of communication skills by its drivers.
It appears from a letter by Inspector Neil Billany, head of the Metropolitan Police’s taxi and private hire unit, Uber has “been made aware of criminal activity and yet haven’t informed the police”.
The Metropolitan police complained in August that Uber was either not disclosing, or taking too long to report, serious crimes including sexual assaults, and thereby putting the public at risk. Of the 154 allegations of rape or sexual assault made to police in London between February 2015 and February 2016 in which the suspect was a taxi driver, 32 concerned Uber, according to the capital’s police force.
Uber’s failure to report the increased numbers of rapes and sexual assaults by its drivers, which has spiked by 50 per cent in just one year, resulted in the TfL shutting it down. Uber drivers are mostly migrants or “refugees”.
Drivers for London’s traditional black taxi service, have to undergo rigorous training in order to obtain a license from the transport authorities, while Uber drivers are not subjected to the same rules. Traditional black London cabs also have CCTV installed in the back of the car.
Uber taxis, which has 40 000 drivers in London, however are not required to film their trips.
In June, 20 staff were fired after a US law firm investigated specific complaints made to the company about sexual harassment, bullying, and retaliation for reporting problems.
“Another way of looking at Uber is as a blunt tool of globalism,” writes Oliver JJ Lane. “Enabling large numbers of migrants (and let us not fool around by presenting for a moment the vast majority of Uber drivers in London aren’t born abroad) to completely undercut the business of, and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of predominantly white, working class Brits who drive taxis.”
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi appealed to users to support the company on Twitter: “Dear London: we r far from perfect but we have 40k licensed drivers and 3.5mm Londoners depending on us. Pls work w/us to make things right.” He admitted that the loss of its licence was the result of the company’s “bad reputation” but insisted that they had done nothing wrong.
“The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation. Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and to be clear, I don’t think we did), it really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement.
A campaign called Save Your Uber in London was set up after it was announced on Friday that it would not have its licence renewed when it expires on 30 September.
The US company claims that 3.5 million people use the service, and plans to appeal against the decision by TfL, because it said the US company was “not fit and proper” to hold a private vehicle hire licence. In October 2016 Uber had lost a landmark employment tribunal in the UK that ruled drivers should be classed as “workers” rather than being self-employed
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given his full support to TfL’s decision, the BBC reported. But Uber has said the move “would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.
The company is no stranger to controversy. In 2014 the New Delhi government banned app-based taxi companies after an Uber driver raped a passenger in his vehicle
Uber stopped operating in Austin, Texas, when it was told drivers would have to have fingerprint background checks, but it reinstated its services after the requirement was scrapped.
At the beginning of the year, Uber paid $20m in the US to settle allegations it gave false promises to drivers over how much they would earn.
In South Africa, Uber taxis were attacked across Johannesburg in June. Uber cars were damaged and drivers, mostly black, and passengers intimidated amid dissatisfaction by metered taxi operators.
In July Uber driver Lindelani Mashau died after being assaulted and his vehicle set alight on June 10 in Sunnyside‚ Pretoria. But Uber maintains it is not a security company and is calling on law enforcement agencies and the police to solve the ongoing attacks.