Uber drivers stage protest in Leeds amid claims of plummeting incomes
DOZENS of Leeds Uber drivers staged a protest amid claims that an influxÂ of drivers from neighbouring Yorkshire cities has left them strugglingÂ to make a living.
More than 40 Uber drivers gathered outside the company's office on Burley Road in Leeds this morning to voice their concerns.
Protestors say Uber drivers with private hire licences issued by Leeds City Council are now vastly outnumbered by 'cross border' drivers operating in Leeds despite having private hire licences issued by neighbouring local authorities.
They say Uber has created a 'West Yorkshire Partnership' which means that if a driver has obtained a private hire licence from any council in the whole of Yorkshire they can operate anywhere in the county, including Leeds.
Uber driver Aflak Ahmed, 35, of Hyde Park, Leeds, was among more than 40 drivers who gathered outside the Uber offices on Burley Road this morning. (Tues Sept 18)
The father-of-two said: "It's really dismal, you can't even earn £40 a day because you are only getting a job around every two hours .We are not even earning the minimum wage.
"I'm having to take an extra mortgage out just to sustain a living at the moment. There are too many drivers and we are having to pay for our own licensing fee."
Father-of-three Muhammad Suleman, 46, said he was the first Uber driver in Leeds when he started working for the company in 2015.
Mr Suleman, said: "Day-by-day our expenses are going up and our earnings are going down. I used to make £100 a day and now I only make £50 or £60. How can I support my family earning only that amount?"
Uber driver Nadim Choudry, 45, said: "It's very hard. On September 9 I worked for 11 hours and I did 15 trips and only made £58.61.
"I can't make my living. People are not working in their own cities,they are coming to Leeds. It is very stressful at the moment and no-one is helping us."
Protestors also say they are concerned about public safety as drivers and vehicles are operating in Leeds who have not been the subject of Leeds City Council's vigorous testing procedures ahead of private hire licences being issued .
An Uber spokesperson, said: “Every driver who uses our app in the UK has been licensed by a local council, which includes going through an enhanced DBS background check.
"We are always looking to make improvements to ensure drivers have the best possible experience and can make the most of their time driving on the app.
"That's why over the last few months we’ve introduced dozens of new features for drivers, including sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections.
"And while the law allows licensed private hire drivers to drive anywhere in England and Wales, we recently made a change which means that drivers can only use our app within the region they are licensed in.
"Our door is always open for drivers to speak to us about any issues they're having."
Coun James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for resources and sustainability, said: "Taxis and private hire vehicles have a vital role for many in our communities and the needs and safety of passengers are at the centre of our licensing system.
"We want to see the public able to travel safely with a good level of service and reputable drivers and Leeds City Council has some of the most robust policies and conditions in the UK to support this.
“Changes in the legislation surrounding taxis in 2015 have had an impact on our ability to control how taxis and private hire cars – including Uber – operate in Leeds if they are not based in the city.
"This allows journeys to be passed on from one operator to another so vehicles licensed in other districts can operate in Leeds.
"To deal with this, we are already liaising with neighbouring local authorities to raise standards and reduce any problems raised by 'out of district’ private hire vehicles operating in Leeds.
"We are also lobbying for a stronger national licensing and enforcement approach to this issue.
“Leeds City Council regularly meets with representatives from taxi and private hire vehicle businesses and we are happy to meet with representatives of other drivers, providing they can
supply details of the drivers they represent.”