Uber boss holds 'constructive' London talks after ban

LONDON: Uber's new chief executive held "constructive" talks with London's transport authority on Tuesday, the ride hailing firm said after last month's decision not to renew its operating licence in the British capital.

Uber said the meeting between its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown was designed "to make things right", 11 days after the body ruled against the US company.

Tuesday's talks were described as "constructive" in separate statements to AFP from the offices of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Uber and TfL.

Uber currently employs around 40,000 drivers in London and has a customer base of 3.5 million in the capital, more than 800,000 of whom have signed an online petition protesting TfL's decision.

TfL has criticised Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offences and to obtaining criminal record checks for drivers as factors in its decision.

Uber has until Oct 13 to lodge its own appeal against the ban, and can continue to operate until the appeals process has concluded.

"We hope to have further discussions over the coming weeks as we are determined to make things right in London," an Uber spokesman said after the meeting.

Discussion focused on "what needs to happen to ensure a thriving taxi and private hire market in London where everyone operates to the same high standards", according to a TfL spokesman, adding that "further steps" would be taken in the coming weeks.

"Every private hire operator in London must play by the rules, and adhere to the high standards we expect", commented a spokesman for the city's mayor.

But Uber may continue to "deny their drivers basic workers rights", said James Farrar, chair of the private hire drivers branch of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) trade union.

The union is representing Uber drivers in a landmark employment rights tribunal case against the company, of which Farrar is a co-claimant.

"It's clear that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and TfL are just going through the motions to give people the impression that they are both doing something to clean up Uber's act," Farrar told AFP.

"The reality is that neither seems to want to talk to the main stakeholders in the business – the drivers – or deal with their concerns." — AFP