Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber Re-Enters Barcelona With Professional Driver Service

Uber is seeking a second chance in Barcelona three years after it was forced to shut down in the face of taxi driver protests – by introducing a fully licenced ride-hailing service that meets local transportation laws.

Its new UberX service will operate with hundreds of professional, licenced drivers in contrast to the UberPopservice it ran until late 2014 using non-professional drivers to pick up and drop off passengers, Uber said on Tuesday.

Uber is looking to make a clean break with business practices that resulted in a litany of regulatory battles, driver and consumer scandals and court cases.

“We made mistakes along the way,” Uber General Manager for Southwest Europe Carles Lloret said in a company blog post.

“We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of the cities in which we operate. Barcelona is no exception.”

Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in January he was focused on “responsible growth” as he seeks to put an end to the take-no-prisoners culture he inherited upon joining the pioneer of ride-hailing services last year.

Two years ago, Uber re-introduced UberX using professional drivers in Madrid. In December 2014, a judge had ordered all Uber services to be shut down in Spain’s capital city.

Decrying Uber’s return as unfair competition to their livelihoods, taxi drivers have mounted a series of 24-hour strikes in Madrid, Barcelona and other Spanish cities over the past year.

“We are fully committed to working with the entire sector – including taxis – to improve mobility in Barcelona together,” said Lloret.

San Francisco-based Uber pre-emptively closed its services in Barcelona in December 2014 as local officials geared up to pass legislation against the UberPop service, which city authorities legally barred the following year.

Protests by taxi associations over the past year against Uber have also targeted Madrid-based Cabify, a rival founded in 2012 that operates in Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Uber operates a range of ride-hailing services in more than 600 cities around the world.


Uber Driver Is Employee, Not Freelancer: Swiss Agency

Uber Driver Is Employee, Not Freelancer: Swiss Agency
An Uber driver is an employee for whom the company must pay social security contributions, a Swiss insurance agency has ruled, dealing a blow to the U.S. ride-hailing platform that says drivers are independent contractors.

The California-based startup whose cab service has expanded worldwide vowed to challenge the ruling, the latest clash with regulators that have accused it of bypassing national labour protection standards and shunning collective negotiation with drivers who work on freelance terms.

In October, a British tribunal ruled Uber should treat its drivers as workers and pay them the minimum wage and holiday pay.

Suva – which as a provider of obligatory on-the-job accident insurance in Switzerland helps decide which workers are freelance – found an UberTechnology driver was staff because he faced consequences if he broke Uber rules and could not set prices and payment terms independently, broadcaster SRF reported.

A Suva spokesman confirmed the report but said it concerned a particular driver who had sought to clarify his status, not a general ruling on Uber’s business model. “For us it is not about the company but about the person involved,” he said.

Nevertheless Rasoul Jalali, general manager at Uber, took issue with Suva, which he said had classified independent drivers as employees in other cases before Uber arrived in Switzerland, triggering other challenges.
“Taxi dispatchers have had exactly this issue for years and yet today there is not one driver employed by a big dispatcher in cities such as Zurich or Geneva. So this is nothing new in Switzerland and we will challenge it, just as others have,” he said in a statement.

“Drivers using the Uber app are independent contractors who enjoy all the flexibility and freedom that come with being self-employed.”

Founded in 2009, Uber has taken the world by storm but come up against opposition too.

Various services it has proposed have been banned in some countries and it faces numerous battles in US courts over labour standards, safety rules and pricing policies that trigger fare surges at peak times.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Uber, Uber Employee, Apps, Uber App


Uber Driver Blames App for Michigan Shooting Spree: Report

Uber Driver Blames App for Michigan Shooting Spree: Report

Police in Michigan say an Uber driver who carried out a shooting spree last month told investigators that the ride-sharing app forced him to commit murder, US media reported Monday.

Police charged Jason Dalton, 45, with killing six people and wounding two during his rampage in the city of Kalamazoo, 150 miles (240 kilometres) west of Detroit.

Dalton confessed to the murders, saying the smartphone app instructed him where to go to shoot victims after taking over his “mind and body,” the Detroit Free Press reported, citing police reports obtained through a public records request.

City officials did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

Dalton told police that upon opening the Uber app, he saw a symbol resembling a devil’s head and “that’s when all the problems started,” the newspaper reported.

The app “would give you an assignment and it would literally take over your whole body,” investigators reported Dalton as saying, the paper said.

Dalton carried out the shootings outside an apartment complex, a restaurant and a car dealership between driving customers for Uber during a five-hour period.

The police reports also said that after the car Dalton had planned to use failed to start, he took another that left his wife without transportation.

Speaking to her at his parents’ house after the first shooting, he warned she would not be able to return to work and that their children could not go back to school – and that and she would understand why by watching television news, the paper reported.

Investigators say they are still trying to determine a motive.

A judge has ordered Dalton, a former insurance adjuster, to undergo a mental competency exam, prosecutors said earlier this month.

He faces a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole.

Mass shootings – in which at least four people are killed or injured – take place almost daily in the United States, with 330 deaths recorded last year.

The Kalamazoo shooting spree prompted President Barack Obama to urge governors to fight gun violence.

However, Republican lawmakers, many of whom are backed by the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group, have blocked Obama’s attempt to pass gun control legislation.

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Tags: Apps, Barack Obama, Uber, Uber App