Uber whistleblower says current business model is ‘absolutely’ unsustainable

LISBON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – Mark MacGann, the whistleblower behind the so-called Uber Files, said on Wednesday the ride-hailing company appeared to be taking steps to improve its work culture, but its business model Still “absolutely” unsustainable.

The Guardian and Le Monde reported in July that Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) broke the law and secretly lobbied politicians as part of an aggressive push into new markets from 2013 to 2017.read more

MacGann, who led Uber’s lobbying efforts for government support, claimed to be the source of the leak of more than 124,000 company documents.

MacGann said he decided to speak out because he believed Uber was deliberately flouting the law and misleading people about the benefits of the company’s gig economy model for drivers.

Responding to reports by The Guardian and Le Monde in July, Uber said: “We have not and will not make excuses for past actions that are clearly inconsistent with our current values.”

MacGann said Uber’s current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and his executive team “have done a lot of good work, but they still have a long way to go.”

When asked for comment, an Uber spokesman referred Reuters on Wednesday to a 2020 New York Times op-ed by Khosrowshahi in which he said “our current employment system is outdated and unfair.”

Khosrowshahi has said that if gig workers become employees, they will lose the flexibility they have today, and rides will be more expensive. Workers want both flexibility and benefits, the CEO wrote, adding that new laws are needed to help them.

“I propose requiring gig economy companies to create benefit funds that provide workers with cash that they can spend on benefits they want, such as health insurance or paid time off,” Khosrowshahi wrote in the op-ed.

“My message to Uber is: ‘You’re doing great, (but) you can do better (because) the current model is absolutely unsustainable,'” MacGann said in a press release at the Web, Europe’s largest tech conference Speaking of Summit, in Lisbon.

He said Uber recently reiterated that “the core of its business model is independent contractors because everyone wants to be self-employed and everyone wants flexibility.”

However, he said the facts contradict this view, as Uber drivers have sued the company in multiple countries for “access to basic minimum social protections, such as sick pay.”

“Uber is spending tens of millions of dollars fighting legislation in Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world,” he said.

Reporting by Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon Additional reporting by Nivedita Balu and Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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