More fuel for the local taxi industry’s fire with news out of the US that drivers for Uber have criminal backgrounds including murder and sexual assault.
Prosecutors in California have found 25 Uber drivers have beaten background checks despite having serious convictions. It was alleged the company’s back-checking process had “systemic failures”.
The Australian taxi industry has long waged war with Uber drivers claiming they were undercutting its drivers and devaluing the cost of taxi plates.
The local industry too had claimed that Uber drivers could possibly be dodgy, so much so it released a campaign last week that carried less than subtle overtures that Uber passengers were taking their lives in their own hands.
Taxi Council CEO Roy Wakelin-King said: “Allowing illegal taxi services to operate unregulated puts the public at significant risk.”
Uber in Australia rejected any claims its drivers were untoward insisting they were held to the same checks as taxi drivers, while many of them were ex-cabbies anyway.
LA prosecutors, in a complaint against Uber said: “Registered sex offenders, a kidnapper, identity thieves, burglars, and a convicted murderer had passed Uber’s ‘industry leading’ background check.”
One driver with serious sex offences with children had given almost 6000 rides, including unaccompanied children. Another driver had been convicted of firearm offences, selling cocaine and drink driving.
Uber, however, has hit back claiming its checks are in line with industry standards and said that the allegations were “misleading”.
The company – now reportedly worth $US50 billion – has also come under fire for treating its drivers as contractors and thus not having to pay any benefits such as superannuation. As well as issues around the background’s of drivers there has been concerns about a lack of regulation about driver conditions and the amount of hours a driver can be on the road.