Uber drivers work “excessive hours”, making the taxi app service a danger to public safety, a union has warned.
The GMB Union told Westminster Magistrates’ Court it had evidence that Uber “encourages and incentivises” its drivers to work long hours.
The hearing will determine whether the union can take part in the taxi app’s battle to renew its London licence.
Transport for London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and refused to renew its licence in September.
An Uber spokeperson said it would “shortly be introducing hours limits” for drivers in its app. It said that on average, drivers spent 30 hours a week logged into its app.
“We take the issue of tired driving seriously, which is why we regularly remind drivers to take rest breaks,” they added.
GMB representative Gerry Facenna told the court that it wanted Uber to introduce a maximum hours cap for drivers, as well as a limit on how many drivers can operate in one area at the same time.
“From a public safety point of view, being driven around London by a driver who has worked a 15-hour shift is no better than being driven around by a driver who has not had background checks,” he added.
Around 2,000 of GMB Union’s members are Uber drivers.
In February 2017, the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee heard evidence from Uber drivers who said they were forced to work long hours to cover their costs, which included the purchase of their cars.
In response to the committee’s request on driver hours, Uber said last month that over a quarter of its drivers used the app for more than 40 hours a week and more than 2,000 drivers used the app for more than 60 hours.
Transport for London cited “public safety and security” concerns – including Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences – for its decision to remove Uber’s operating license.
Uber’s licence expired in October but its drivers can continue to operate in the capital while it pursues an appeal.
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has warned that the appeal process could “go on for a number of years”.