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EE boosts 4G coverage at London stations as restrictions are lifted
by Paul Hill
EE has announced the expansion of its 4G mobile network across rail routes in and out of London as COVID-19 restrictions begin to be lifted. While it's not the newer 5G, the expansion of 4G should ensure people don’t drop offline completely or to slower 3G and 2G speeds.
The expansion sees nearly 70 4G mobile sites being set up around the capital city with hundreds more being planned. At London Euston and London Liverpool Street, more capacity has been added to the network so connectivity should be quicker and more reliable. Upgrades have also been applied on the route between London Liverpool Street and Chelmsford and on six sections between London Victoria and Brighton.
Commenting on the expansion, David Salam, Director of Mobile Networks at EE, said:
EE has also introduced 4G coverage to the HS1 line between St Pancras International and Ashford International as summer approaches and more people are expected to travel. Another important travel route that has been upgraded is the line between the Heathrow Stansted and Gatwick airports. The firm said that station upgrades were largely delivered using in-building Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) technology.
After a 5-year battle, Uber recognises drivers as employees
by Paul Hill
Uber has finally recognised its 70,000 drivers in the UK as employees rather than self-employed, according to The Mirror. It’s the culmination of a five-year battle between the firm and its workers. The decision comes a little under a month since the UK’s Supreme Court came down on the side of drivers.
Under their new terms, Uber employees will gain the minimum wage which stands at a rate of £8.72 ($12.13) per hour for those over the age of 25. As employees, they will also be entitled to a range of rights including sick pay, parental leave, and a pension.
In an article in the Evening Standard, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said:
While Uber attempts to paint itself in the best light after the Supreme Court’s decision, it’s very unlikely to be happy with the decision to pay its drivers on employer-employee terms. Just last November, the firm was one of several gig economy businesses that spent hundreds of millions to get Californian voters to keep the status quo over the gig economy. Ultimately, the campaign succeeded and drivers there still work on a self-employed basis.
While it’s definitely an improvement in working conditions, drivers will not be considered full-time employees, according to The Verge. Instead, they’ll be paid at the minimum wage rate and build up their holiday time as they drive passengers to their destination.
Sky Mobile reveals how much data was saved due to lockdown
by Paul Hill
The Mobile Virtual Network Operator, Sky Mobile, has revealed that £174 million worth of data has been saved among its customers due to lifestyle changes brought around by lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unsurprising that mobile data has dropped significantly due to people staying home and using their broadband connection more but it’s nice that Sky Mobile has been able to quantify the use reduction.
Customers that have continued to pay for their mobile usage over the last year have not lost access to the 55 million GBs of data that have been saved, instead, it’s stored in Piggybank for up to three years so many customers will have a lot of data to burn through once restrictions are lifted. Sky Mobile said that on average, customers have saved 43 GB of data which works out to about £136 of savings per person.
Commenting on the news, Paul Sweeney, Managing Director of Sky Mobile, said:
According to the firm, customers in Scotland saved the most data reaching 7.7 million GBs and saving £24 million. London came second with customers saving 4 million GBs of data which was worth £13 million.
While not one of the main providers in the UK, the service does have 2 million customers and it offers some interesting features including Piggybank and the recently announced ability to share spare data with those who may need it.
UK's Supreme Court says Uber drivers are employees
by Paul Hill
The UK's Supreme Court has ruled that a group of Uber drivers, 25 in all, who took Uber to an employment tribunal, are to be considered employees of the firm rather than self-employed. For the time being, the employed status only applies to this group who brought the case but it could have a wider impact on the gig economy where people essentially perform piece work without other benefits that employees enjoy such as sick pay.
The case, which was finally settled today by the UK’s Supreme Court, has been going on for around five years now. It was initially played out at a London employment tribunal which found that the drivers were entitled to paid holidays and rest breaks but Uber appealed the decision so the case progressively went through higher and higher courts.
Britain’s 60,000 Uber drivers will not see any change to their employment status for quite a while yet, among the 25 who brought the case, details about their employment will need to be worked out over the next several months, it could even be the case that another employment tribunal hearing is needed to work out how much money is owed to the drivers.
Commenting on the results, judge George Leggatt said:
Uber has faced calls to make drivers employees in other countries too; Californians recently voted to keep gig economy drivers as contractors rather than employees after Uber and Lyft poured more than $200 million into a campaign to keep the existing regime.
Source: UK Supreme Court via Reuters
UK court to decide whether Uber drivers are employees
by Paul Hill
The UK’s Supreme Court will reveal whether Uber drivers are to be considered employees or self-employed next Friday, according to a Reuters report. If the drivers are considered to be Uber’s employees it will mean that they’ll be entitled to things such as a minimum wage, paid holidays and rest breaks.
The decision next week is the culmination of several appeals by the ride-hailing firm after a London-based employment tribunal said that Uber drivers were employees back in 2016. At the time, Labour MP Jack Dromey said that Uber would fundamentally have to rethink how they operate – it’s still not clear what Uber would propose or how it would affect the thousands of Uber drivers.
According to Reuters, even after the decision is made public next Friday, it could still take several more months until the decision takes force because another employment tribunal hearing will need to take place to work out how the decision works in practice.
Since the decision in 2016, Uber has faced a similar challenge in California where the public got a vote on the matter. The ride-hailing firm ploughed money into the campaign and as a result, the public voted to keep app-based drivers classified as self-employed contractors rather than employees.