Uber and Sadiq Khan

Uber recently lost a court battle in which some of their workers did not want to be seen as self-employed; rather they wanted holiday and sick pay, amongst other things. To further their concerns, Sadiq Khan this week has removed their London licence. This is hugely useful to A Level students studying Democracy (component 1) which includes rights and pressure groups and the Constitution (component 2) which includes devolution.

By removing their London licence, Sadiq Khan was exercising his powers as London Mayor. Some argued he was using this power unfairly, “at the flick of a pen” threatening to put 40,000 people out of work. This is a useful example of the multiple centres of powers in the UK (pluralism) and demonstrating the devolution of power within England rather than the UK. It is also a useful example as it shows a company acting like a pressure group – Uber, having now apologised, are working to regain their London licence. In acting to try and ‘pressure’ Sadiq Khan to reverse his decision, this can be a good example of the ways in which pressure groups act. The very quick petition which also appeared (here) is a great example of the role of social media and the internet in fuelling participation in the UK, but also arguably of ‘slacktivism’ – a student aiming for the top grades might consider whether the use of such petitions online is actually simply the way that younger generations engage with politics, or whether, ultimately, it is unlikely to succeed if engagement in this way is so simple (the answer is not clear – justifying it is key!!).

Related to this, the court case about workers’ rights is a great piece of evidence for how the interests of the individuals can conflict with the interest of groups – not all Uber drivers wanted the decision that was made and yet they were subject to it. It also shows a ‘pressure group’ using the courts as an access point to get their view across. (I have written an article about this in September 2017’s Politics Review if you want more on it!).

Click here for the BBC article on the dispute

Click here for information on the court dispute about self-employment