1st of November 2016
Uber drivers in the UK were never seen as Uber employees. More as partners, turning over a share of the revenue to Uber. But UK government has just ruled differently. Uber must from now on pay their UK drivers national living wage to more than 40,000 UK drivers. This huge amount of affected citizens in the Uber self-employment lawsuit makes us think about the implications of an automated driving future.
Uber drivers are no longer self-employed, but Uber employees and should be paid the “national living wage”. Accompanied by insurance, holiday pay, pension and all other employee benefits of course. A UK employment court has ruled in a landmark case which will affect 40,000 UK drivers. Uber immediately said it would appeal against the ruling.
Before, the company never “employed” its workers, but took commission from their earnings. Uber operates around the world, with the company valued at more than $50bn, mostly made from these revenue shares. But still Uber argued that it was a technology firm and not a transport business. Its drivers were independent self-employed contractors who could choose where and when they worked. Those days are over now.
40,000 is peanuts
But these battles between regulators and the self-employing monopolists hijacking the sharing economy are, in the long term, irrelevant. Driving down cab drivers’ wages and reducing their employment rights to almost zero. Those days will soon be over. Because soon there will no need for drivers at all. What to do in a world where automation begins to eradicate work?
The 40,000 people positively affected from Uber self-employment lawsuit is peanuts compared to the total driver workforce in the UK. 400,000 people work as heavy goods drivers and at least a quarter of Britain’s 2.5 million van drivers are couriers. Then there are 297,000 licensed taxi drivers.
In the US more than 3% of working Americans are drivers of some sort. And when you look at the data on a district level, the problem looks even worse. Some areas, like the Bronx and Queens in New York City, or Hoboken, New Jersey, rely on driving jobs for nearly 9 percent of their work forces.
More than just cars
If we believe Oxford researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, 47% of all jobs are susceptible to automation. Half of the vacancies on the job market will soon be outdated. How are people going to live?
The most heavily touted solution is the universal basic income. In a way, Uber has done us a favour by making concrete the effects on automation on the job market. We should begin by recognising that, as machines plus artificial intelligence begin to replace human beings, the entire social, political and moral dilemma for humanity becomes a question of systems. Our gouvernments should start preparing, planning and regulating for the eradication of most driving work.
News tags: Uber, News tags: Law