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New York cabbies demand action against Uber

NEW YORK cabbies demanded action against Uber yesterday as the private-hire company launched a new advertising campaign targeting outer borough residents.

They gathered outside City Hall, demanding regulation to protect workers and urgent action to solve a crisis they say has pushed six drivers to suicide.

The New York Taxi Workers Association (NYTWA), which organised the protest, claimed that Uber’s business model has led to the “financial ruin” of professional drivers, blaming City Hall’s failure to regulate the company.

The union said the streets of New York have been flooded with 130,000 vehicles from app-based private-hire companies, while only 13,650 of the city’s distinctive yellow taxis are allowed.

It warned against a “race to the bottom,” calling for regulation to lift all drivers out of poverty and protect full-time jobs including a regulated metered fare across the industry — 80 per cent going to drivers.

Six drivers are known to have taken their lives this year, including Douglas Schifter, a private-hire driver who shot himself in front of City Hall after posting a lengthy note on Facebook detailing how the city’s failure to regulate Uber had destroyed his livelihood.

The union claimed the new advertising campaign is “misleading” and accused Uber and similar service Lyft of having “more lobbyists than Walmart, Amazon and Microsoft combined … borrowing bullying tactics from the gun and tobacco lobby to stop cities from regulating.”

NYTWA executive director Bhairavi Desai warned against being “fooled” by Uber, claiming it only cares about the outer boroughs when it is fighting regulation.

“This is a company that has fought relentlessly against background checks for drivers, that until recently tried to force assaulted passengers into arbitration and that continues to exploit workers, denying them basic labour rights, creating a race to the bottom that has pushed six hard-working immigrant New Yorkers to suicide,” she stormed.

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