United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May said Uber's case is proof labor rights in the country currently aren't at an optimal level and must be improved going forward. While speaking at the 2018 edition of the World Economic Forum held earlier this week in Davos, Switzerland, Ms. May reflected on a number of recent technological innovations that are drastically transforming the global economy, ride-hailing included. While she wasn't directly critical of Uber, her comments were delivered in the form of an asteism, commending the San Francisco, California-based startup for its "groundbreaking use of technology" that's now revolutionizing the concept of mobility, highlighting issues with the early version of the "gig economy" in the process of doing so. Ultimately, the lawmakers must do a better job of keeping up with the technological advancements so as to reverse the recent trend of deteriorating workers' rights, the UK PM concluded.
Ms. May's comments were a reference to Uber's recent legal issues in the UK, with the company being denied an operating license renewal request in London last September due to what Transport for London deemed was a concerning lack of corporate responsibility. With London being one of Uber's largest urban markets, the decision was a major setback for the company and its aggressive international expansion strategy and though its leadership quickly started doing damage control, the matter is now heading to court. For the time being, Uber is attempting to improve the working conditions of its London drivers in order to address some of the local regulator's direct complaints, having recently announced new insurance packages and mandatory rest breaks, though it still insists its drivers cannot be classified as employees.
The firm is allowed to continue operating in London until its appeal is heard by the court. The competent judicial body is presently aiming to start a five-day hearing on April 30th but may still end up delaying the process due to scheduling conflicts. Should Uber be allowed to continue doing business in the UK capital, its licensing costs will spike by over 96,500 percent due to TfL's recent restructuring of its permit system. Uber is presently targeting an initial public offering in 2019 and expects to become profitable within three years, according to its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The company that raised over $22 billion since its Series A funding round in 2011 is still burning through money, having lost approximately $4 billion in 2017 alone.