Thursday 14 November 2019

Uber draws up shortlist of heavyweight candidates for new UK chairman role

Uber Photo: Reuters
Uber Photo: Reuters

Ravender Sembhy and Kalyeena Makortoff

Uber is drawing up a shortlist of heavyweight candidates with City experience as it looks to recruit a UK chairman before the end of the year.

The Press Association understands that headhunters working for the Inzito Partnership - which has recruited for the likes of William Hill, G4S, Warburtons, Deloitte and the Financial Conduct Authority - are whittling down a list of potential contenders just six weeks into their search.

"It's normally a very orderly process, but it looks like this is a case of the house is burning down and there's a desperate search for big names," a corporate headhunting source said.

"Uber requires someone who is a bit more establishment and who understands how to keep the market happy and understands public sentiment," the source added.

Uber launched the search for the role weeks before Transport for London (TfL) decided not to renew the cab-hailing app's licence on the grounds that it was "not fit and proper" to operate in the capital.

It is hoping to fill the newly created non-executive chairman role by year-end amid plans to appeal against TfL's decision.

The issues raised by TfL include Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offences, how drivers' medical certificates are obtained, how criminal record checks are carried out, and its use of technology which allegedly helps it evade law enforcement.

More than 797,000 people have signed an online petition launched by Uber urging TfL to reverse its decision.

Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the app in London.

Read more: Uber's new CEO writes open letter apologising to London for taxi app's mistakes

A rival petition spearheaded by the GMB union is calling on TfL to only renew Uber's licence on the condition that it guarantees drivers at least the national minimum wage, paid holidays and sick leave.

That petition has more than 106,000 signatures.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has asked TfL officials to "make themselves available" to meet the boss of Uber, who apologised for its "mistakes".

Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said he accepted that Uber had "got things wrong" and was launching its appeal "with the knowledge that we must also change".

Uber is also appealing against an employment tribunal ruling that two drivers were workers rather than independent contractors and so qualified for rights such as holiday pay.

The company is facing a fresh employment tribunal claim from a female driver who says the practices of the San Francisco-based company unfairly disadvantage women.

She claimed the way the company asks her to operate is putting her and other women at risk.

A recent survey of 1,000 Uber drivers across the UK found that nine out of 10 were "very/somewhat satisfied" driving with the company and would recommend driving with Uber to others.

A similar number said Uber is a "good company to work with", while 18pc would prefer to be working with another taxi or minicab company.

The survey by research firm Orb International found that 80pc of drivers say they would prefer to stay as an independent contractor.

PA Media

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