Taxi industry urged to join Uber class action
Eastern Metro MP and Transport Matters leader Rod Barton is urging taxi and hire car drivers, operators and licence owners to get on board a Maurice Blackburn class action against Uber.
Registrations for the case close on Friday this week (15 February) , with lawyers Maurice Blackburn expected to file the case with the Victorian Supreme Court soon.
“Uber entered the Australian market and operated illegally for years and it’s cost our industry a massive amount in lost income, destroyed license values, and unfair competition while its drivers operated illegally in Australia,” said Mr Barton.
“This case will be one of the largest class actions in Australia’s history and I believe Uber must be held accountable for the damage it has caused.”
Mr Barton said he would do all he could to support the class action and his election to the Legislative Council in Victoria was a result of the public and industry demanding a voice on transport issue in Victoria.
“I was a hire car driver for 30 years and I’m in parliament to get resolution for the industry. I’ll fight the good fight in our state government, but I’m also on board personally to make sure this private class action gets up,” he said.
The class action was originally a Victoria-based case but has been opened up to operators in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia who have been affected by Uber’s illegal entry to the market.
Maurice Blackburn estimates over 22,000 license holders and drivers in Victoria are eligible to register.
Prior to the emergence of ride-share and the resulting changes to the Victorian legislation in August 2017, the industry was operating lawfully under the previous regulatory environment. There were legitimate avenues for Uber drivers to purchase commercial passenger vehicles licenses and legally embark on their business venture with Uber.
“That Uber supported and encouraged its drivers to operate illegally has come at substantial personal cost to those legal operators. It was unfair and the industry deserves compensation. I urge those in the taxi and hire car industry across Australia to add their voice to the class action and seek retribution directly from Uber,” he said.
Mr Barton said he would deal with government side of this “unfinished business” in state parliament, but the class action was important because it was the only way that operators could hold Uber accountable for its actions.
The registration site is www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/uberclassaction
Breakdown of numbers across each state represented in the class action:
Taxi licences as at August 2017 – 4,624
Taxi drivers as at August 2017 – 16, 880
Hire-car licences 2016/17 – 1,140
Taxi licences as at 1 July 2015 – 7,285
Taxi drivers as at 1 July 2015 – more than 22,000
Hire-car licences as at 1 July 2015 – 1,700
Taxi licences as at 2016 – 3,260
Taxi drivers – 13,158
Limousine licences as at 2016 – 583
Taxi licences as at May 2015 – 2,547
Taxi drivers – 6250
Charter vehicle licences – 600