Uber has just launched a bunch of new features in the UK in a bid to appease drivers who are in a bitter dispute with the the company over labour rights … but not everybody is happy with the additions.
Starting August 15, UK riders will be able to reward their Uber drivers by leaving a tip through the app after each trip, the company announced in a press release. Uber users in the UK will also be able to tip their UberEATS drivers.
Tipping was introduced a few months ago in 100 cities in the US and Canada in response to a growing driver backlash. Now the feature is rolling out in the UK.
However, a union representing British Uber drivers said the feature is just an attempt at spinning the company ahead of a key ruling next month:
“This is a cynical PR move ahead of Uber’s appeal next month against last year’s employment tribunal ruling in favour of drivers. Despite its claims, Uber remains completely deaf to the most serious issue facing excessively long hours earning on average between 5 and 6 per hour,” James Farrar, Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) chair, said.
Tipping is not the only new feature that Uber is adding for drivers. The company is also adding “paid waiting time” for drivers, in which passengers will pay 20p for every minute they keep the driver waiting after the first two minutes. The change will be rolled out across the UK on August 22.
Other new features Uber has lined up is the “No thanks” button which allows drivers to instantly reject a trip request in place of waiting 10-20 seconds, and driver destinations, which will match drivers going to a specific area to passengers on a similar route.
Finally, Uber is adding trip request controls so drivers can choose not to receive less lucrative UberX trip requests.
But, according to Farrar, these additions aren’t enough to address issues of driver welfare.
If Uber was more concerned about driver welfare than it is with propping up its own dreadful reputation, it would have abided by the tribunal’s decision and guaranteed drivers a minimum wage and holiday pay,” Farrar said. “Instead, we are talking about ‘innovations’ such as a ‘fairer’ rating system and a ‘no thanks’ button. We say, thanks Uber but ‘no thanks.'”