Uber whistleblower Mark MacGann testifies before European Parliament

On Tuesday, the lobbyist-turned-whistleblower Mark MacGann testified before the European Parliament during hearings on Uber's lobbying activities. MacGann was behind the leaked Uber files that revealed how the ride-hailing company broke the law, misled police and secretly lobbied governments between 2013 to 2017. Among protesters outside, a recent "historic deal" between Uber and the Belgian trade union ABVV-BTB caused tensions.

"I lobbied governments around the world to get Uber what it wanted in order to succeed. Today I’m here to call on the European Parliament to defend the interests of drivers and platform workers everywhere," the former Uber lobbyist told EU lawmakers.

"I hope that my testimony today will help you better understand why giving disproportionate power in legislation to huge tech platforms risks shattering the social justice this body fought hard to establish and defend," said MacGann. The whistleblower urged EU lawmakers to ensure that drivers would be better protected under the legislation proposals they are currently debating.

Meanwhile, the unity among Uber's opponents who protested in front of the European Parliament appeared to be under strain. During the protest, some taxi drivers expressed criticism of the Belgian union ABVV-BTB, which recently struck a 'historic deal" with Uber to represent drivers and start a social dialogue.

The US ride-hailing company has only struck similar agreements with local unions in the UK and Australia before. The union and Uber still fundamentally disagree on the status of drivers, the agreement explicitly states, but "that ideological discussion should no longer stop us from trying to improve their situation," ABVV-BTB deputy federal secretary Tom Peeters said in an interview on Friday.

Despite their recent deal with Uber, ABVV-BTB attended the demonstration outside of the European Parliament on Tuesday. "Trade union ABVV-BTB will participate in all protests against Uber, because we believe in a real statute for self-employed taxi drivers. We are for strong European legislation, always have been and always will be," an ABVV-BTB delegate clarified. 



Former Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann attends a European Parliament committee hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels, on October 25, 2022 © Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

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