Monday, 05 Dec 2022

Uber whistleblower calls on Europe to tackle undemocratic power of tech companies

Uber whistleblower calls on Europe to tackle undemocratic power of tech companies


Uber whistleblower calls on Europe to tackle undemocratic power of tech companies

The whistleblower who revealed how Uber flouted the law and secretly lobbied governments around the world has called on European lawmakers to take on the "disproportionate" and "undemocratic" power held by tech companies.

Speaking to a committee of MEPs in the European parliament, Mark MacGann, who was Uber's top lobbyist in Europe, said the cab-hailing company's practices were "borderline immoral" as he recalled the "almost unlimited finance" executives had to lobby and silence drivers with legal disputes.

MacGann said he hoped his testimony would help the lawmakers understand why "giving disproportionate power in legislation to huge tech platforms risks shattering the social justice" MEPs had sought to defend.

The former Uber lobbyist also urged European lawmakers to ensure that drivers were better protected as a result of draft legislation being thrashed out by MEPs and EU ministers.

The EU is debating proposals that would require gig-economy companies to ensure workers get the minimum wage, access to sick pay and holidays. It would also shift the burden of proof on employment status to companies, rather than the individuals who work for them.

Speaking alongside MacGann, Nicolas Schmit, the EU commissioner for jobs and social rights, said he was concerned his proposals were being watered down by EU ministers, by weakening the presumption of employee status.

MacGann said it would be unfair for drivers to be required to hire expensive lawyers and go to labour courts to prove they were employees. "The financial burden has to be on those who can afford it, which means the platform companies and not the drivers," he said. "Companies like Uber have so much money to drown you in legal fees," he said.

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