Uber is under investigation in Australia


travis kalanick uber ceo

Ridesharing provider Uber is the subject of an investigation by Australia’s ombudsman for workplace relations.

The Fair Work Ombudsman confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday evening that it has started an inquiry into whether the company’s conditions for drivers comply with federal regulations.

“I can confirm that the Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced an investigation into Uber, with the purpose of determining whether the engagement of Uber drivers is compliant with Commonwealth workplace laws,” an ombudsman spokesperson said.

“As this is a live investigation it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further.”

Uber had long been classifying drivers as contractors rather than employees, explicitly calling them “partner-drivers” to emphasize the point. But a group of activist drivers called Rideshare Drivers United has claimed responsibility for the FWO investigation, saying the current conditions equate to a “a classic ‘sham contracting’ arrangement”.

“To be classified as real subcontractors, drivers must have more control and ability to grow their business, directly negotiate service prices with customers, ask for the destination before having to drive to the pick up location, be permitted to hail street rides, issue invoices and most importantly be able to scrutinize the Uber booking system and its various performance and earning metrics,” the group stated on its website this month.

“Uber currently does it all ‘on behalf of drivers’ while drivers have absolutely no say over any of these important business decisions & functions.”

UberAn Uber Australia said that more than 60,000 people chose to drive on its platform because “they like setting their own schedule and being their own boss”.

“We will be happy to assist the Fair Work Ombudsman with any questions they may have.”

Rideshare Drivers United claimed it took its concerns to the FWO earlier this month, submitting accounts of driver experiences and demanding that all rideshare drivers be classified and paid as casual workers. Now that the investigation has started, it is actively calling on Uber drivers to make submissions to the ombudsman.

In an attempt to calm driver concerns, Uber Australia earlier this month lifted its minimum fares across all mainland state capitals. The company also added a 55c booking fee at the same time, but none of that went to the drivers.

Rideshare Drivers United said at the time that the minimum fare rides were such a small percentage of total trips that the change was “a slap in the face” for drivers.

The group instead called for a hike in the distance-based rates. Those tariffs had been cut twice in the past two years and now were at “very low, unsustainable levels” that left drivers with “well below minimum take home wage”, according to Rideshare Drivers United.

Failure to adapt

Uber globally has been on a hiding to nothing in recent weeks, with its corporate culture coming under scrutiny, a board member resigning after making sexist comments at an anti-sexism staff meeting, and its founder and chief Travis Kalanick resigning after an investor revolt.

Tony Wu, head of growth at recruitment platform startup Weploy, said that the industrial dispute in Australia had arisen because the “gig economy” has evolved from people earning “quick cash on the side” to actually making their primary income.

“Many Australians [now] rely on this type of work as their livelihoods, and as such, we need to treat these jobs as legitimate forms of employment,” he said.

“We feel there is a lack of responsibility within the gig economy and workers are left to fend for themselves as contractors.”

While Uber had left a great legacy of bringing the gig economy into the mainstream, Wu said, its industrial relations needed to adapt.

“If they fail to take responsibility for this, it will only continue to add to their growing list of issues. In the gig economy, the success of your business is proportional to the happiness of your community,” he said.

“However, Uber can’t be solely blamed for the issue — policy makers have been slow to the mark and have failed to adapt legislation to protect workers within these economies.”

SEE ALSO: The stunning string of blows that upended Uber, the world’s most valuable startup

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NOW WATCH: Every map of Louisiana is a lie — what it really looks like should scare you

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Non-Sequiturs: 06.28.17


* Very interesting piece by Mark Joseph Stern on Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s dissent in Pavan v. Smith (aka the “LGBT parents on birth certificates” case). It seems to me that Justice Gorsuch’s statement is technically correct — the Arkansas Department of Health (1) was okay with giving the named plaintiffs their birth certificates and (2) conceded that in the artificial-insemination context, gay couples can’t be treated differently than straight couples (see the Arkansas Supreme Court opinion, footnote 1 and page 18) — but it’s either confusing, at best, or misleading and disingenuous, at worst (the view of Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, counsel to the plaintiffs). [Slate]

* Speaking of Justice Gorsuch, Adam Feldman makes some predictions about what we can expect from him in the future, based on his first few opinions. [Empirical SCOTUS]

* Professor Rick Hasen has made up his mind on this: “Gorsuch is the new Scalia, just as Trump promised.” [Los Angeles Times]

* The VC welcomes a new co-conspirator: Professor Sai Prakash, a top scholar of constitutional law and executive power. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Now that Harvard Law School will accept GRE scores in lieu of LSAT scores, what do law school applicants need to know about the two tests? [Law School HQ]

* And what do Snapchat users need to know about the app’s new “Snap Map” feature? Cyberspace lawyer Drew Rossow flags potential privacy problems. [WFAA]
Non-Sequiturs: 06.28.17 syndicated from http://abovethelaw.com/feed/

ICE director appears to break with one of Trump’s key beliefs on immigrants and crime


ice director thomas homan

Thomas Homan, the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, appeared to break with one of President Donald Trump’s key campaign assertions on Wednesday, suggesting he didn’t believe immigrants in the country illegally commit more crimes than Americans.

“Did I say aliens commit more crimes than US citizens? I didn’t say that,” Homan told reporters at an off-camera briefing. “I’m saying, number one, they’re in the country illegally. They already committed one crime by entering the country illegally. But when they commit a crime against a citizen of this country, they draw our attention.”

The statement contrasts with Trump’s frequent insistence that immigrants living in the country illegally present a public safety threat to Americans, and his insinuations that illegal immigration and crime are linked.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump famously said in June 2015 as he announced his candidacy. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

An executive order Trump signed shortly after his inauguration said that many undocumented immigrants “present a significant threat to national security and public safety,” and prompted the creation of an office specifically to assist victims of crimes committed by immigrants.

But the rhetoric contrasts with multiple studies showing that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans, and even undocumented immigrants don’t commit crimes at higher rates than Americans.

But even though Homan broke with the idea that immigrants living in the country illegally commit more crimes than US citizens, he still took a hard line on illegal immigration, saying people “should not be comfortable” with the notion that they won’t be targeted for deportation. He also suggested that immigrants who are deported after raising children in the US only have themselves to blame.

“US citizen families get separated every day when a parent gets arrested for a criminal charge. So those here illegally, they put themselves in that position,” Homan said. “Not the US government, not the ICE officers.”

SEE ALSO: Trump wants to publicize crimes committed by immigrants — critics call it ‘scapegoating’

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NOW WATCH: ‘What you feel isn’t relevant’: Sen. Angus King grills intel leaders on whether Trump tried to influence them

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