The announcement that Transport for London (TfL), the local government body responsible for the transport system in the Greater London area of England, will not renew Uber’s licence has shocked the company’s 3.5 million customers and 40,000 drivers in the city. The news will have also shocked many category managers, who have been building the service into their travel policies and will now have to carefully consider whether business users should continue to use the taxi-hailing application.
Uber has changed the way people travel around cities all over the world in recent years. All travellers have to do now is load up the Uber app on their smartphone, enter the address they want to get to and a driver will come and pick them up and drop them off. There isn’t even any need to pay cash as the transaction all takes place through the app itself.
TfL cited Uber’s lack of safety norms, such as thorough background checks on drivers, and its possible use of the greyball software, which makes it difficult for regulators to track its operations, as part of the reason why it wouldn’t renew the company’s licence. However, there have also been allegations of the firm paying workers low wages.
The UK parliament’s work and pensions committee published a report, Sweated labour, Uber and the “gig” economy, which stated Uber’s working conditions and were creating “chronically low pay” and insecurity for drivers.
While Uber may not be a direct supplier, a decision to use that service, however indirectly, comes with a certain degree of risk now that these issues have been highlighted.
Currently, use of Uber is neither promoted nor discouraged by many category managers within the Procurement Leaders community. That will need to change. Businesses and their category managers need to decide whether they will allow travellers to use this service or not. Research should also be carried to to see if there are other businesses out there who could provide such a service in place of Uber.
While Uber appeals the decision, now is the time for action. Any delay will only increase confusion among travellers and potentially increase risk.
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This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.