The select committee I sit on scrutinises policy and practice in business and energy for our country. This week we started our work on looking at the impact of technology on the role of front-line workers. One of Uber’s bosses was one of the witnesses and I got the chance to challenge them about the way they act as a company.
Uber and other companies who use apps to revolutionise services to us, the customer, have been amazing in the convenience they offer, and many of the staff who work in the front-line love the flexibility it offers.
But there’s a downside too. Risk is passed down (if you’re run over by a self-employed driver they are responsible rather than a big company) and profits are passed up (delivery companies like Hermes don’t pay pensions or other benefits to their drivers, but the post office does).
But its also about rights and protection too. Am employed driver for the post office gets pension, protection from the minimum wage and a cap on maximum hours worked plus a holiday entitlement, all protected by law. But a driver for Uber, a delivery driver for Hermes, or a rider for Deliveroo gets none of these so the company gets to pocket that saving directly as opposed to the front-line workers.
So, I want to look into how we keep this innovation, but make sure we keep a level playing field and all companies driving us or delivering to us, for example, play by the same rules.
And also, when any company acts belligerently and tries to bully regulators or lawmakers, I’ll show them what we in Hove and Portslade think of people who try to push others around!! That’s why this brief exchange with an Uber boss made a few headlines this week!
Let me know what you think of these companies and the issues they raise, and what you think of this exchange, I’m keen to hear your thoughts. All the best, Peter