Unions Pressure UN Women to Drop Uber Partnership Meant to Create Jobs for Women

UN Women partnered with Uber to create 1 million jobs just two weeks ago.



Two weeks ago, UN Women, a United Nations gender initiative, made big news at the opening of the Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York City when it announced it would partner with ride-sharing service Uber to "create 1 milliin jobs for women as drivers on the Uber platform by 2020."

Politics, however, have gotten in the way, with international trade unions pushing UN Women out of the partnership. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

A coalition of trade unions responded to the proposed collaboration by pointing to the reports of harassment and assault that, on top of allegations of unfair pricing and breaches of privacy, have dogged the ride service.

"As unions and NGOs we find it astonishing that UN Women is linking to this organisation, based on a promise of a million jobs that we know are likely to be insecure, ill paid, and potentially unsafe," Brigitta Paas, vice president of the International Transport Workers' Federation, a global union coalition that frequently challenges Uber, said during the conference.

"We urge the UN Women organisation to reconsider this announcement of their partnership with Uber.without delay," Ms. Paas added.

Uber operates out of 55 countries, and reports of harassment related to the service have surfaced from a number of them.

Like the population of Uber drivers, transport workers are accused of harassment too. And the International Transport Workers' Federation's effort to torpedo the Uber deal was not accompanied by any job creation initiative of the trade unions. UN Women was going to partner with Uber to help women with limited access to the Internet and the Internet economy to secure gainful, independent, employment. The trade unions didn't have an alternative and aren't making any efforts to bring in more women, with or without a partnership with UN Women. They are just committed to using their resources, largely siphoned from their workers, to limit the visibility of their competitors.

UN Women didn't frame its decision as one based on political correctness (opposing Uber being the politically correct position for pro-trade unionists) but rather pointed to Uber's perceived failure to protect female drivers and passengers, a failure that is not unique to Uber and has not been demonstrated to exist at any less significant rate in the wider hired driver industry. Will UN Women next revisit its partnership with the United Nations? After all, UN staff are regularly accused of sexual abuse.

Much of the developing world went from no phones to mobile phones, skipping landlines all together because of the infrastructure costs. Mobile technologies have made it easier for isolated communities to communicate with each other, look up market prices, and do other business. Uber and apps like it that connect customers to independent individual service-providers have the potential to have a similar transformative effect on developing economies. If the entrenched interests of old don't use the power they've carved out for themselves in the legal frameworks of countries around the world to stop it. 

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  1. What is this unfair pricing of which you speak?

    1. They could mean one of two things:

      1) The “unfairness” of charging more when demand is higher than supply. We can’t have incentives for more drivers when they are needed!

      2) The “unfair” lower pricing of Uber compared to cabs when it’s not surging.

    2. If they charge less than the competition then they’re unfairly undercutting.

      If they charge the same as the competition then they’re unfairly colluding.

      If they charge more than the competition then they’re unfairly gouging.

      Pick one.

    3. It is funny too because if anything the price is more fair to the driver (aka the lowly worker) than anybody else. It compensates them for working at times they would rather not be (like the Friday evening surge when everyone is going out for the weekend or New Years eve) or where it is more dangerous or stressful (like that controversy in Australia). One good example that I’ve heard from multiple women drivers is unless the surge pricing is incredibly good they refuse to work the 2 am bar pick up time period and deal with unruly drunk men. I wonder why I’ve seen far more women Uber drivers than cabbies.

  2. Thank Gaia someone is protecting women from the choices they might make.

    1. They need to give affirmative consent to drive.

  3. are likely to be insecure, ill paid, and potentially unsafe,”

    Better they have no jobs.

    1. I know, right?

      Man, can this WAR ON TEH WIMMINZ get any nastier?

  4. I have a suspicion that “much of the developing world” skipped landlines less because of infrastructure costs than because of the “the State should run the telephone system” mentality that pervades a lot of the world outside tye U.S.. I know in Italy in the’90’s it was becomming common to have a cell but not a landline because the landlines were under the control of the State (badly) run phone service, and it was too much trouble to persuade them to “serve” another customer.

    1. There’s also the fact that in certain parts of the developing world, if you ran a telephone line in the morning, the wires and poles would be stolen by the next afternoon.

  5. Like the population of Uber drivers, transport workers are accused of harassment too.

    And you can bet your bottom dollar that Brigitta Paas and the International Transport Workers’ Federation will make every effort humanly possible to prevent their employers from terminating them in that event.

  6. Nothing unusual going on here: Unions agitating for the wrong things. This is what they do. This is who they are.

    Unions are for losers. If you belong to a union? and yes, that includes cops, firefighters and teachers? then YOU are a loser.

  7. “Yeah, Yeah, hands of my uterus!”
    “Um, I think he said, `Uber-Lyft'”
    “Oh, then regulate the shit out of them”.

    1. posted that a year ago, but….I kinda liked it so I did it again.

  8. a million jobs that we know are likely to be insecure, ill paid, and potentially unsafe,

    So unions thinks consumers shouldn’t use Uber because they might be attacked by the drivers, and women shouldn’t take jobs as Uber drivers because they might be attacked by passengers. That about right?

    1. Donchaknow that passengers and drivers are in a constant state of war with each other?

  9. Can we all just agree the Saudis have it right? If you don’t let them drive, then you don’t end up in this mess.

  10. Unions will find the means to its end, or taxi companies will. UBER is meeting a need that is in direct and very successful competition to them. I predict it will be through government regulators, for they respond much more quickly to bribes that does any other entity.

  11. Uber is fundamentally bad because it is a system of massive surveillance.
    There are many other bad things about Uber, see stallman.org/uber.html,
    but it would be wrong to promote Uber to fix just one of them.

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