Lack of concern, an assault on booked-hire drivers

26 October 2018
Media Release

A recent report[1] revealing the wide-spread fear around personal safety felt by Uber and other booked-hire drivers should be a ‘wake-up’ call for State Governments to act immediately warns the Australian Taxi Industry Association (ATIA).

The survey, commissioned by Rideshare Driver Co-Operative and the Transport Workers Union, showed booked-hire drivers are working with significant concerns about physical abuse, harassment, and threats, which are going unaddressed by the likes of Uber. One in 10 booked-hire drivers have been physically assaulted while working and 6 per cent reported they have been sexually assaulted.

CEO of the ATIA, Blair Davies, says Uber and other booked-hire companies continue to act with only superficial concern for the safety and wellbeing of employees.

“It should not have come to a third-party published survey for Uber and other booked-hire companies to realise more needs to be done to ensure the safe and fair treatment of their drivers. It’s now clearer than ever that many booked-hire drivers are fearing for their safety and the companies they work for should be doing something urgently to help them,” said Mr Davies.

“To hear there’s been 969 reports of harassment and assault but the majority of these cries for help have been ignored by their companies is unacceptable. Violent passengers aren’t banned from the service and there’s no compensation for any damage to vehicles. It’s clear that their drivers’ safety is not a priority which is why they are in no rush to fix what is a blatant issue, despite incidents occurring all around the world.

“Inaction by these companies also has potential consequences for all of us. By failing to take action against the perpetrators, there is the risk that they continue acting in this way when travelling by other forms of transport such as buses and trains. Companies like Uber have a responsibility to society to take urgent and meaningful action to put a stop to violent activity occurring inside their vehicles.

“These companies are not taking advantage of the technology readily available to them to help protect drivers from abusive and dangerous passengers. Trying to solve the issue through an app with an emergency call button, which is designed purely for the safety of passengers, is just simply not enough. They need to take more proactive measures to ensure their drivers don’t become victims of abuse, harassment or worse.”

The survey also showed Uber and other booked-hire drivers earn less than the national minimal wage, and the ATIA fears drivers will continue to be exploited unless more is done.

“Ride-sourcing drivers have been complaining for years now that they want a fairer and safer working environment, and it’s about time these companies listened and took action, or for State Governments to step in and make them do so. The app platform providers need to stop thinking about lining their own pockets and consider the well-being of their workforce. The taxi industry has long been calling on a fairer deal for both drivers and passengers of the personalised transport sector and we just want to see this become a reality for everybody involved.

“Taxis are equipped with compulsory safety technology including high quality tamperproof security cameras and hardwired GPS tracking. We see this as an investment in cabbies’ and their passengers’ safety, and it’s now overdue for the competitors to also invest in safety technologies rather than skimping the issue,” continued Mr Davies.