Uber drivers in France on strike over app changes

Uber is a ride sharing app in use in many cities in France, but drivers are striking over recent changes

Driver of the ride-sharing app Uber are on strike in several cities in France, in protest against a change in some of the platform’s key driver settings.

The largest action took place in Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis, Île-de-France) yesterday (Monday November 25), when 200 drivers blockaded the Paris suburb’s Uber offices. There have also been movements in Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nice, and central Paris, drivers said.

An Uber spokesperson said that the strike had been prompted by “a procedural change to improve the quality of service”.

Reported controversial changes include the app automatically logging drivers out if they refuse to accept a journey, and forcing them to explain themselves to Uber before being granted new access.

The Uber spokesperson said that the impact on “the 30,000 drivers signed up to the platform” had been minimal, and said that the app no longer logged drivers out for this reason. They said: “Delays and lateness occurred, which kicked off the [strike] movement. [Uber] has gone back to the previous system.”

But Brahim Ben Ali, Uber driver and leader of the strike movement, said that the strike had also been prompted by further issues.

These included “undignified” prices for journeys, “abusive logouts”, and drivers who abuse the app by driving under its brand without authorisation (a VTC card, which all Uber drivers are legally required to have).

He said: “The app is being ruined by fake drivers, exactly like in England.”

Drivers blockaded in front of Uber France offices (Photo: NUM RDV / @mumrdv / Twitter)

According to Uber France, all drivers registered on the app were asked to verify their papers before July this year, to ensure that they are licensed and not committing fraud.

The spokesperson said: “Those who did not do so were logged out, as we may believe them to be acting fraudulently.”

Uber France added that the average net price paid to drivers for journeys was 9.15 per hour, which it said was “above the industry average”.

The strike in France comes as Uber London has had its licence revoked by Transport for London (TfL) in the English capital for the second time. This is said to be largely due to reported faults in the app, which have allowed thousands of unlicensed drivers to fraudulently take passengers under the Uber name.

Uber London is appealing the ban, and said in a statement: “We think this decision [by TfL] is wrong and we will appeal...Over the last two years we have fundamentally changed our business and TfL found us to be a fit and proper operator just two months ago. We remain 100% committed to rider safety.”

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