JUNE 28 2017
By Adam Carey | Sydney Morning Herald
The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched an investigation into Uber and whether its contracts with tens of thousands of Australian drivers are in breach of federal workplace laws.
The employment watchdog undertook to probe the US-based company's contractual relationship with its large workforce of "driver-partners" earlier this month, after a request by a group of disgruntled drivers who argue they have been "misclassified" by Uber as self-employed.
The Ombudsman is now preparing to interview drivers who use Uber's wildly popular, low-cost UberX platform, which has upended the taxi industry's established business model in Melbourne and around the world.
A spokesman for the Fair Work Ombudsman said it had "commenced an investigation into Uber, with the purpose of determining whether the engagement of Uber drivers is compliant with Commonwealth workplace laws".
Uber drivers have argued their work agreement with the company is not like that of a self-employed contractor, because Uber controls every aspect of the job other than the number of hours a driver chooses to work.
Members of the group that made the request, Ride Share Drivers United, remain anonymous, and its spokesman "Max B." claimed this was for fear that Uber will cut off any outspoken member's access to the ride-hailing app.
Uber's ability to block a driver's access to the app and deny income opportunities, without a right of reply, is one of the key complaints the group has asked the Ombudsman to probe.
READ MORE: http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/fair-work-ombudsman-investigates-uber-over-potential-breach-of-labour-laws-20170628-gx0a82
Jack McKay, The Courier-Mail
June 12, 2017 12:00am
The assault on the value of taxi licences in Brisbane brought about by ride-sharing service Uber has intensified.
Documents released under Right to Information show the price of licences has dropped significantly.
Sixteen taxi service licences were sold in Brisbane between April 2016 and March this year.
The most expensive licence sold for $275,000 in May 2016, but a licence changed hands in March for just $110,000.
The last licence sold in Brisbane over the 12-month period went for $120,000, while the average value of the 16 licences was just over $200,000.
This compares with peak values over $500,000 before the ride-share disruption of the industry.
Despite the fall in prices, a TransLink spokeswoman said the value of licences could appreciate after a raft of legislative reforms passed State Parliament last month.
“The comprehensive reforms passed by State Parliament on 24 May, 2017, focus on increasing customer safety and providing certainty and stability to the industry,” she said.
“We believe these legislative changes will provide certainty to the industry, reinforce taxi licence values, and allow them to appreciate in value into the future.
“Existing taxi service licences have retained their perpetual status and still provide the opportunity for revenue generation under the reforms.”
The spokeswoman also said there were no plans for further perpetual taxi licences to be made available.
Opposition transport spokesman Andrew Powell said the Government had “delayed and dithered” in its response to changes to the taxi industry, hurting owners, drivers and passengers.
“While the Palaszczuk Labor Government and its revolving door of transport ministers dragged their feet on getting assistance payments out the door, the uncertainty and delays caused serious damage to taxi businesses,” he said.
“We’re confident our plan will restore value in the taxi industry by providing certainty and stability, respect for owners, operators and drivers and a level playing field.”
The LNP has committed to appointing an independent personalised transport commissioner if it wins government at the next election.
Taxi Council Queensland chief executive Benjamin Walsh said the value of taxi licenses was set by the market.
“The value is set by the market and the Government has had a history of leading the market by accepting the highest tender, so it has distorted the market over time,” he said.