Australian taxi drivers win US$178 million payout from Uber

SYDNEY: Australian taxi drivers impacted by the rise of ridesharing giant Uber have won US$178 million in compensation, their lawyers said Monday (March 18) after settling a gruelling legal battle.

More than 8,000 taxi drivers and hire car owners banded together to launch legal action in 2019, arguing they lost substantial income when Uber entered Australia in 2012.

Lead lawyer Michael Donelly said the A$271.8 million (US$178.3 million) settlement was the "fifth highest class action settlement in Australian legal history".

"Uber fought tooth and nail at every point along the way, every day, for the five years this has been on foot -- trying at every turn to deny our group members any form of remedy or compensation for their losses," said Donelly, from legal firm Maurice Blackburn.

"But on the courtroom steps and after years of refusing to do the right thing by those we say they harmed, Uber has blinked, and thousands of everyday Australians joined together to stare down a global giant."

Lawyers alleged that Uber engaged in "a variety of shocking conduct" when it launched in the country, including using "unlicensed cars with unaccredited drivers".

Taxi driver Nick Andrianakis told reporters he was forced to close his taxi business of 40 years when Uber launched.

"I lost my passion for work... and I lost my income that provided food on the table for my family," he said.

Uber said it was "inappropriate" to comment on the size of the settlement until it was signed off in court.

"When Uber started more than a decade ago, ridesharing regulations did not exist anywhere in the world, let alone Australia.

"Today is different, and Uber is now regulated in every state and territory across Australia, and governments recognise us as an important part of the nation's transport mix."

The US-based company, worth US$157 billion, said it had made "significant contributions" to Australian taxi compensation schemes. - AFP

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Australia , taxi , Uber , compensation


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