All your drivers are belong to us
With the rise of tech startups hitting the web on a day to day basis, it’s increasingly difficult for traditional businesses to stay afloat; a clear example of this lies with the rapid development and growth of Uber, and how it fares against traditional taxi cabs.
The capitalist market has increasingly become a case of darwinism; only the strongest will survive. That’s fair, but when you’ve got one company which has expanded more rapidly than almost any other within the tech industry now threatening the entire transportation industry completely, there becomes a lot of problems.
The typical taxi driver of today works hours on end, picking up OAP’s from the supermarket with their shopping and dropping them off at home; and they earn anywhere between £12,000 to £30,000 a year — there are 242,200 in the United Kingdom (https://www.gov.uk/government/colle...) and they’re working hard every day to provide for their families and uphold their lifestyle.
Then, technology kicks in — and with technology, comes innovation. Innovation is good, but Uber threatens the taxi driver industry completely, offering customers cheaper rates, faster pickup time and the freedom of choosing what car they want to be driven around in; how can the 242,200 taxi driver compete with this one company?
Of course, you have to give credit to Uber for being able to offer such a competitive service; only a fool would argue that a taxi driver’s got more to offer, other than those who are accustomed and feel more comfortable with a taxi service. I mean, after all, it’s still real people driving you around — they’re just like your standard taxi driver. You’re keeping more money in your back pocket. So what’s the problem, right?
What needs to be accounted for is that hundreds of thousands of jobs are under threat because of Uber — but the real question is, do you side with a company which is innovating an industry, or do you side with the hundreds of thousands of people who will be left without a job in a few years time when Uber’s taken over their work completely?
This is the big predicament. And, before we can even reach that decision, Uber is pushing even further — expanding into new markets, creating new divisions of its company by the month. First, it started as a simple transport app which got you from A to B. Now, there’s UberFood, Uber X, Uber Black, Uber TAXI, Uber POP, Uber Pool; just to name a few. Each and every one threatens a different part of the transportation industry — who knows, they might even come out with an Uber BUS soon!
The point is, Uber isn’t playing around. It understands that, eventually, the cards will fall against its favour — and so, in order to keep it alive, it is expanding its business across the world so that one country’s legislation against the company cannot harm it indefinitely. It is taking advantage of globalization; can you blame them? For no wrong-doing, other than offering customers better deals?
However, where we reach a predicament is when we land at how Uber treats its employ— I mean, contractors, not employees. That’s the biggest part — Uber doesn’t treat its workforce like employees; which both has its advantages and disadvantages. From a business standpoint, it is legal; but from an ethical standpoint, it is despicable. Uber avoids paying out a lot in bonuses and taxes by treating its staff as contractors — and they earn significantly less, becauase Uber doesn’t have to pay them a specific rate; instead, the driver simply works through the Uber app and pays 30% of what they earn to Uber. This 30% on a one-by-one basis may not seem much, but it adds up to an incredibly enormous amount over time; in cities like New York City, drivers need to be full-time working for Uber in order to be barely meeting the living wage of NYC residents.
With that being said, people do have the option to leave Uber practically whenever they want, without any real repercussions. You don’t have to work for Uber. But, with that being said, if you want to be a driver, the way things are looking, you will have to work for Uber.
You either get with their status quo, accept the scrapings of the barrel in which they are prepared to offer you, do not quarrel with them in a way which makes them look bad in the media; or you do not work for them. You can criticise them all you want and become your own independent driver, but you will struggle to find anyone offering the same level of consistency.
If you are against Uber, then are you not against businesses doing well? Uber is under the spotlight for its employment issues, but let’s forget about that for now; you either support Uber and its efforts, and are content with the hundreds of thousands of people — the same people you see walking past you in the street — who will lose their job because of the transport giant, or you are against Uber; you are against a business which wants to save you money in a lot of ways, wants to offer you variation with its different services, priced at economic rates which would make you laugh at a taxi’s prices — where do you stand?
This is one of the many faults we face with the rise of multi-national businesses; there becomes an oligarchy in an industry, with Uber becoming the sole benefactor of the transportation monopoly which it has set up — almost entirely by itself.