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The Shadow Business Secretary Says It's Not "Morally Acceptable" To Take An Uber

Rebecca Long-Bailey was speaking on BBC Radio 4 on the day the government's Taylor report examining the gig economy was launched.

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Labour's shadow business secretary has said it is not "morally acceptable" to use Uber, accusing the company of "exploiting" its drivers.

On the day the government launched a major report into gig economy workers rights, Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I personally do not use Uber because I don’t feel that it is morally acceptable, but that’s not to say that they can’t reform their practices.

"I don’t like the way that they’re exploiting their workers, and I think the recent case proved that in the courts, that suggested that the workers that were there were workers and they needed to be given the adequate amount of protection and rights that workers enjoy."

Rebecca Long-Bailey says she doesn't use Uber because she thinks it is "not morally acceptable" #r4today

Her remarks, which were supported by fellow Labour MP Wes Streeting, came as former Tony Blair adviser Matthew Taylor launched his report into gig economy companies such as Uber or Deliveroo.

I stopped using Uber precisely because of their exploitative business model - which we'll all end up paying for in the end.

Taylor's report is expected to recommend that the flexibility of gig economy workers should be protected, but that workers' rights should be strengthened. The report will recommend that workers currently classed as self-employed by gig economy companies be assigned a "dependent contractor" title, granting them additional employment protections.

Long-Bailey dismissed the new title, insisting "the court victories that we've so far had have proved that many of these so-called self-employed people who work for the likes of Uber, for example, are workers and should be given adequate protections.

"And I do worry that if this isn't dealt with in sufficient detail, it could undermine the court rulings of Uber, for example, which it was hoped to have wide-ranging implications for the industry."

MP Chi Onwurah, Labour’s shadow industry minister, said she had used Uber and that the issue was not with consumers using the “best app” for them but how companies like Uber treated drivers working for the company.

“I have used Uber myself,” she told Sky News, “but it’s not about the consumers who are using the best apps for them, it is about the employers, and they are employers, and that is what the recent court case by an Uber driver showed.”

She added: “This flexibility is only for the employers right now – what we need to have is flexibility for the workers."

Last year a tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are entitled to paid rest breaks, holiday pay, and the national minimum wage. The company is appealing against the ruling, and has denied acting illegally.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Uber said drivers used the app to make money "on their own terms".

A spokesperson continued: “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades before our app existed and with Uber they have more control.

"Drivers are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive with no shifts or minimum hours. In fact the main reason people say they sign up to drive with Uber is so they can be their own boss."

The spokesman added that "the average driver took home well over the National Living Wage".

Gig Economy Worker Rights Should Be Enhanced, Government Review Says

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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