Uber and Deliveroo get a gig economy rights grilling

Oct 11, 2017 · techcrunch.com

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Uber and Deliveroo execs faced questions from a UK parliamentary committee today as the government continues to deliberate on changes to employment law to account for the rise of gig economy work facilitated by tech platforms.

Ride-hailing giant Uber was also grilled over what one committee member dubbed its "aggressive" response to TfL’s recent decision to strip its operator license in London — describing its claim that the city regulator risked putting 40,000 drivers out of work as hypocritical since Uber does not actually employ any of those drivers, while also pointing out that its business is intent on trying to automate the driving function via developing driverless car technology.

"The business absolutely accepts that in lots of places it’s had the wrong attitude," Uber’s head of public policy, Andrew Byrne responded, flagging up new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s open letter apologizing to Londoners for "mistakes". "It needs to change… Hopefully we can see a path forward now with TfL where we can address their concerns and continue to operate."

"There’s no suggestion that how we plan to move forward is total replacement of individuals by automation," he added on the driverless car point. "We do think that a fleet with lots of human drivers will be the norm for 10, 20 years. That will continue to be the case in the UK.

"Our investment in the research into automation is something that we do as a business — and we’re proud of the fact that it might have big safety implications. But we will absolutely recognize that we have responsibility to the people using the app when that time comes. But that time is not coming for a very significant amount of time."

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