In the debate about Uber versus London taxis, who has the moral high ground? A difficult question, I find. Uber has been a boon for young people, who can summon these freelance drivers by clicking an app on their mobile phones. They are half the price of London black cabs, and for young women to be able to summon an Uber cab at any time of the day or night in this way seems less risky than hanging around a street corner hoping to hail a London cabbie.
On the other hand, London taxi drivers have complained for years that Uber is undercutting their trade, in which they are skilled practitioners – mastering “the Knowledge”, which acquaints them with every street in the capital – and they also have tax and levy overheads.
After complaints of irregularities and alleged episodes of sexual harassment involving Uber, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has suspended the service – to the fury of more than half a million users (and 40,000 drivers, who may be put out of work).
A dilemma: one of the “sins crying out to heaven” for vengeance is “defrauding the worker of his just wages”. And under this prohibition, the Uber drivers have had their just wages taken away. But taxi drivers say that Uber is undercutting their just wages.
For me, the debate is more academic than applicable. I never take London taxis because they are far too expensive (£25 from the Barbican to Charing Cross), and I don’t have a phone with an app for the purposes of calling Uber. I travel around London by bus and Tube.
Still, I do wonder who has the greater moral entitlement in this debate around social justice.
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