Uber responds to revelations in ‘UberFiles’: “We are a different company now” (Brussels)

‘UberFiles’ contains more than 124,000 internal documents, with notes, calendars, WhatsApp messages and other data files from the period 2013-2017. They reveal dubious practices that the alternative taxi service used to gain a foothold in several countries, including Belgium, by, for example, putting pressure on governments.

ALSO READ. Leaking documents put Uber in tight shoes: International top politicians helped taxi service, the company also went beyond the rule in Belgium on several occasions (+)

In its response, Uber points out that much has already been said and written about the “mistakes from before 2017”. “Thousands of articles have been published about it, several books have been written, and there was even a TV series,” it reads. Travis Kalanick was also replaced as CEO in 2017 after former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder internally investigated the company over complaints of sexism and harassment in the workplace.

The new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, “will be tasked with changing all aspects of how Uber works,” it said. And that, according to the company, has happened. “When we say Uber is a different company today, we mean it literally: 90 percent of current employees came to the company after Dara became CEO.”

So Uber says it does not make excuses for past mistakes, but encourages people to “evaluate us on what we’ve done in the last five years and what we will do in the future.”

The union is not convinced that Uber has changed

Uber itself claims that has changed, but the socialist transport union BTB is not convinced. “Uber faces a critical challenge: either continue its illegal and unethical practices or act as a responsible employer,” it said in a press release.

According to BTB chairman Frank Moreels, Uber can prove that it is now a different company by giving drivers employee status. “Let’s face it. Drivers working for Uber are actually fake freelancers. They have to buy or lease their car themselves (and it has to meet the conditions set by Uber). They have to insure themselves against illness, accident, civil liability … But they get their orders from Uber, “said Moreels. The union says it will” continue to fight for the preservation, survival of the mainstream taxi sector and paid taxi drivers and the creation of fair rules of the game ” “.

Moreels therefore hopes that ‘UberFiles’ will also open its eyes to “politicians who will roll out the red carpet” for such companies. “The mistreatment proven today should motivate them to uncritically stop operating the world’s Ubers,” it said.

PS asks the Commission of Inquiry

Meanwhile, the PS group in the Brussels Parliament is already preparing a proposal to set up a commission of inquiry into the practice of the multinational in the capital. This was announced by faction leader Ridouane Chahid. “Private investigators’ investigations into Brussels ministers, repeated breaches of sectoral rules, data destruction, obstruction of justice, possible tax evasion, screening of companies to circumvent Brussels law, … are all an attack on our rule of law and our democracy. “, Says Chahid. Impunity for PS against such violent behavior is not an option.

Parliamentary faction leader Ahmed Laaouej is going to question Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne so he would make use of his positive right to a ban on public prosecution. In his view, the revelations from the international consortium of journalists deserve a judicial inquiry. “Additionally, there is no indication that these facts have ceased, particularly with respect to tax evasion,” Laaouej said.

In May, the Brussels parliament approved the Brussels Government’s Taxi Plan, which will give Uber and other platforms a place in the capital’s taxi landscape.

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