NSW Taxi Drivers Join Forces To Sue Uber For Almost A Billion Dollars

Sydney’s taxi drivers have joined forces to sue Uber for close to a billion dollars, claiming the ride-sharing giant stole their livelihoods by operating illegally in the state.

The NSW Taxi Council on Wednesday announced their drivers would take part in a class action against Uber for profits they say were stolen from them.

“It’s important that we look to recover some of the losses that our drivers have experienced,” CEO of the NSW Taxi Council, Martin Rogers said.

“If you look at the taxi license owners, these assets were worth over $350,000,  now they’re worth $120,000 -- that’s if you can sell them. No one wants to buy them.

“Many of these licence owners are elderly they don’t have another income --this is it for them.”

The class action, which will also include drivers from Queensland and Western Australia, comes on the back of a separate case in Victoria, where drivers are suing Uber for $500 million in lost wages.

Legal firm Maurice Blackburn says this will be one of the largest class actions in Australian history.

“This class action will likely be one of the biggest in Australia on any measure -- the number of people involved, the potential recovery of compensation for law-abiding operators and licence holders, and no doubt the extent of the fight we are anticipating from the defendants,” Maurice Blackburn senior associate Elizabeth O’Shea said.

This all comes down to how Uber came into being.

Uber was only made legal in NSW in 2015, and at the time the taxi industry was given a $250 million industry adjustment package.

But the Taxi Council said for the three years before that the company was operating ‘illegally’ with laws only governing taxis and hire cars.

“The thing for us is that the government had a regulated framework that we work within, that they were supposed to abide by, but they didn’t,” Rogers said.

Could there be a cost to people who take Ubers? The Taxi Council says that’s up to Uber.

But, they said, if they lose, covering the cost of the suit will have to come from somewhere.