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The Wexford driver who took on Uber - and won


James Farrar.

James Farrar.

James Farrar.

A Wexford man has become the standard-bearer for Uber drivers and workers in the gig economy as they demand better pay and conditions.

James Farrar (pictured), 49, from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, won a landmark case in London against the hailing app after arguing he and another driver Yaseen Aslam were employees and entitled to the minimum wage, sick pay and paid holiday.

Uber has appealed against the ruling, and the case was heard this week at a tribunal in London just days after transport regulators announced a ban on the app. A ruling on the appeal is due in the coming weeks.

Farrar, a father-of-two, who now lives in Hampshire, used to drive a car for Uber, and told Review the experience was "a bit like being a boiling frog".

"I had long hours and low pay. The longest I ever worked was a 91-hour week."

At this week's Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing, a representative of Uber argued that the company operates in the same way as taxi firms with self-employed drivers but on a "much larger scale".

Farrar, who now represent gig economy workers as chairman of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, argues that Uber instructs, manages and control the drivers, and they should not be regarded as self-employed.

While he has fought to improve labour rights of Uber drivers and those working for other gig economy companies, James Farrar is opposed to last week's ban on the app by London's transport regulators.

He said it was a devastating blow to 40,000 Uber drivers, who were in danger of losing their livelihoods.

Farrar says that rather than banning Uber, Transport for London should do more to regulate them.

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He has warned that the decision to ban Uber was disastrous because many of the drivers have leases or commercial car loans, and are facing unmanageable debt.

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