Media release
28 March, 2018

With a recent report1 revealing UberX drivers earn less than the national minimal wage, the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) has warned that booked-hire service drivers are clearly in danger of being exploited and says that more needs to be done to ensure the fair treatment of all drivers.

The study by The Australia Institute Centre for Future Work found that the average UberX wage in Australia equates to just $14.62 per hour, well below the national minimum wage of $18.29 per hour. This estimated figure is the drivers’ take home pay after deducting Uber’s fees, net taxes and vehicle maintenance costs from their hourly earnings.

TCQ CEO, Blair Davies, says these recent figures are “a wake-up call” to Government and has called for tighter protections to ensure booked-hire drivers are not exploited in Australia.

“With more than 50 per cent of booked-hire drivers relying on this work as their main source of income, it is simply not sustainable or ethical for them to continue to live and work under such poor conditions” said Mr Davies.

“There are clearly cases where booked-hire drivers are earning very little and paying for costs out of their own pocket in order to subsidise Uber’s financial losses. If one platform can get away with this type of practice, what’s to say other booked-hire service companies won’t follow suit? How long do we sit back and watch drivers being treated poorly in this way before we have a very serious social issue on our hands?”

The TCQ is concerned that “the driver” is becoming less and less of a concern within the booked-hire service industry, something that has been highlighted by Uber’s introduction of a driverless fleet in the US.

“Uber’s end-game is ultimately to cut drivers completely out of the picture. Its charging along with its driverless car program because it wants to be rid of having to give drivers a fair deal,” said Mr Davies. “It is a case of drivers not being a priority focus for the company and that’s why they are clearly not rushing to fix what is blatant exploitation.

“Taxi drivers typically split the income from the cab 50:50 with taxis operators, they’re the guys who own the taxi and pay for all its running costs. Booked-hire drivers in contrast are essentially funding their trips themselves. Couple this with the fact that booked-hire vehicles still don’t have any real security equipment to keep them, and their passengers safe, it has to be said they are getting a very raw deal!”

Uber deducts a 25 percent service fee from each fare** and introduced a 55 cent booking fee in 2016, where 50 cents is taken by Uber while the remaining five cents is left for the driver to pay the Australian Taxation Office as GST***.

Mr Davies says booked-hire drivers do not realise how much they are losing out and should instead explore alternative avenues.

“The taxi industry just wants to see a personalised transport sector where everyone gets a fair deal, both drivers and passengers. Booked-hire drivers have been complaining for years that that they just want a safe working environment and to have their services properly valued. Unless something is done about this soon, we will see booked-hire drivers emerge as a new underclass of the working poor.,” concluded Mr Davies.

Reference: 1. The Australia Institute Centre for Future Work – Innovation or Exploitation? Simulating Net Hourly Incomes of UberX Drivers. By Jim Stanford 6 March, 2018 Reference 2: Business Insider Australia – Australian Uber drivers say the company is manipulating their ratings to boost its fees. By Harry Tucker 20 May, 2016
Reference 3: The Daily Telegraph – ‘It’s a slap in the face’: Uber drivers label rise of minimum fee ‘minuscule’. By Edward Boyd 29 May, 2017 2:04PM