Unfettered capitalism begins to feel the leash, writes Lindsey German
The Uber decision comes as a bit of a shock but a welcome one. Uber's whole plan is to break up regulated taxis, to force out other firms by cut throat competition, to treat its 'self-employed' drivers with the worst contempt and then - when it succeeds - to force up prices and worsen conditions still further.
It's the Ryanair model if you like, which has seen the supposedly cheap airlines (and Ryanair has plenty of £200 flights plus extras for everything from check in to bags) lead a race to the bottom in terms of wages, conditions and passenger facilities.
The spread of Uber worldwide has had the same effect on taxi firms in many cities, and has been bitterly resisted by unions and drivers in these jobs, as well as by city authorities, as has now happened in London. There are also all sorts of bad stories about individual experiences with Uber.
Two arguments are put against this decision: one is about choice. But this is a spurious choice designed exclusively to corner a market. We don't demand rival buses in London but accept that there should be proper regulation. The same is true with cabs - we have black cabs and minicabs, both properly regulated, which are safer for everyone.
The other argument is about jobs, and that is important. But isn't it amazing how employers and right wingers bemoan the loss of jobs when they want the right to continue exploiting but don't have the same attitude when it's BHS workers or steel workers losing their jobs.
There should be proper benefits for those left unemployed and training in regulated hire or other jobs. But it is a sick joke when employers justify rotten practices and low wages in the name of 'creating jobs'.
We don't want jobs or cheap transport at any price, and Uber's price is way too high.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- All hands on deck to save Theresa May’s ship from sinking – but what we need is a change of government - weekly briefing
- A hundred years after WW1, what are we remembering?
- Talk about equality is cheap, but paying women a decent wage is much too costly - weekly briefing
- A march more about attacking Labour than challenging the Tories – weekly briefing
- Brexit breaking point: it May be the end of this government - weekly briefing
- Taking control is the way to end the misery of 21st century work - weekly briefing
- Ship, iceberg... you know what happens next - weekly briefing