Latest publicity stunt won’t improve booked-hire safety for passengers or drivers

September 19, 2018
Media Release 

The recently introduced passenger ban by Uber is only the tip of the iceberg as the public and platform’s own drivers continue to be disadvantaged, warns the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ).

Earlier this week, Uber, introduced a six month ban for any of its passengers with a rating of less than four out of five. Uber, with more than 7,000 drivers on busy Brisbane roads, says it’s introducing the ban following feedback from its drivers.

However, TCQ doesn’t believe the ban is being brought in through concern for its drivers as recent events around the globe show Uber continues to act with only superficial regard for the safety of its passengers and drivers.

TCQ CEO, Blair Davies, is all for safeguarding drivers from abusive and dangerous passengers but believes Uber’s ban is little more than a publicity stunt which will have little real benefit.

“This ban is really just another example of Uber washing its hands of responsibility for looking after its drivers,” he said. “If they were serious about addressing that issue then they would make safety technology compulsory in their vehicles, just like taxis do with their high quality tamperproof security cameras and hardwired GPS tracking.

“Instead, they are introducing a temporary ban which still leaves their drivers and passengers extremely vulnerable, as this is just more window dressing and distraction rather than a serious effort to address very serious safety problems. Uber and other booked-hire platforms continue to refuse to make that investment, placing everyone at risk for the sake of profits.

“Profits which do not stay in and contribute to Australia but which leach out of the country,” said Mr Davies.

This month saw Uber and other booked-hire platform drivers come together in Chicago, USA, to protest the poor working conditions and low wages they endure. Many of those complaints center around below minimum wage payments, as well as abuses suffered while driving in vehicles with no security cameras fitted.

Yet Uber has only trialed passenger bans in Brazil, and now Australia and New Zealand. That fact, coupled with Uber’s refusal to introduce a new passenger safety report to these shores, as it has in the USA, has led TCQ to question whether the company sees its Australian operation and passengers as anything other than a cash cow.

“This is a foreign company which has come into our towns and cities to congest our roads with extra vehicles driven by poorly paid drivers, undermines our existing infrastructure and business communities, fails to take passenger and road safety seriously, and then rip its profits out of our country.

“If it wants to deliver on its so far empty promises about responsible corporate citizenship and safety being a priority then Uber would make passenger safety reports available everywhere it operates. Why in America, but not Australia?

“Is it simply that Uber doesn’t value its Australian passengers as much as others?

“Prior to the invasion of these booked-hire platforms, taxi driving was a business that allowed Queenslanders to make a reasonable living while providing an essential service in their local communities.

“It’s time for the Queensland Government to stand up not only our industry but all Queenslanders across the State and say ‘enough is enough’ to the likes of Uber. If they want to operate here then they should treat their drivers, passengers, and wider society with the proper respect deserved,” concluded Mr Davies.