Peel CCI representatives at meeting to support class action against Uber

Peel CCI president Donna Cocking, Mandurah Taxis proprietor Julie Murray, senior associate lawyer Elizabeth O'Shea and Peel CCI general manager Andrew McKerrell at the meeting.
Peel CCI president Donna Cocking, Mandurah Taxis proprietor Julie Murray, senior associate lawyer Elizabeth O'Shea and Peel CCI general manager Andrew McKerrell at the meeting.

PEEL Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Donna Cocking and general manager Andrew McKerrell, together with regional taxi and hire car operators and licence owners from WA, attended a meeting in Mandurah on Friday aimed at joining a class action against Uber for operating unlawfully in Australia.

Ms Cocking said the Chamber was supportive of all moves to help the taxi and hire car industry out of its current predicament.

“We understand the plight of our hard-working taxi and hire car operators and will continue to support them and any avenues that can help them overcome the impact of Uber’s entry into the market,” she said.

“This is only the beginning of the fight against the devastating effects of the sharing economy.

“Illegal operators exploit existing business models gaining unfair advantage over tax-paying, law-abiding businesses.

“Registered businesses comply with regulation, which results in prejudicial additional costs and overheads.

“Government attempts to reform legislation to address unfair competition has resulted in the further devaluing of businesses.

“The resultant downward pressure on livelihoods is hurting a lot of families across Australia.”

Julie Murray from Mandurah Taxis said regional drivers have been hit particularly hard by Uber.

“We represent dozens of drivers and in just our small community the impact on business and licence values would mean we have lost upwards of $3 million.

“If our drivers can’t stay on the roads, that will lead to problems for those needing transport around regional areas.”

Senior associate lawyer Elizabeth O’Shea from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said the claim would attempt to represent all taxi and hire car operators, licence owners and drivers whose livelihoods had been impacted by Uber’s illegal entry to the market in Australia from 2014 to 2016.

“It was Uber that came in and exploited people by operating outside regulations, it was Uber’s conduct that led to devastating losses suffered by our group members and for those reasons it is the multi-billion dollar company Uber and its associated entities we are targeting in order to provide redress to those affected,” she said.

“We know from talking to drivers and licence plate holders in WA that Uber’s activities have had a devastating impact on their businesses and livelihoods.

“We are hearing it on the ground at public meetings and on the phones when we talk to people, and we know it has been particularly tough for regional operators in Western Australia.”

But an Uber spokesman said Uber had received no notification of any class action.

The spokesman said more than 3.8 million Australians regularly used Uber as a reliable choice to get from A to B and governments across the country had recognised ride sharing as part of the transport mix.

“We are focusing our efforts on delivering a great service to riders and drivers in the cities where we operate,’’ the spokesman said.

“Despite a number of media stories to date, we have not received any notification of a class action.”