A Damning Report Claims a Major Gig Economy Union Had a Culture of Abuse and Toxicity



A trade union that won a landmark case against Uber in the UK’s Supreme Court had a “culture of abuse and toxicity,” with an internal power struggle threatening to paralyze its operations, according to a damning independent report obtained by WIRED.

The report into the App Drivers and Couriers Union, or ADCU, which was commissioned by the union itself last summer and conducted by a leading UK barrister, also identified incidents of racial abuse and Islamophobia, mistreatment of staff, and evidence that senior figures within the union created well-paid jobs which they subsequently appointed themselves into.

James Farrar, the union’s leader and general secretary, resigned when the report was finalized last week. In his resignation, which he shared with WIRED, Farrar acknowledged his “part” in the problems at the union but said that its “future has never looked brighter,” adding that it was “time to make way for new leaders, fresh ideas and different ways of doing things.” Farrar declined to comment on the report’s findings on the record.

Yaseen Aslam, who left his role as president in July, around the time of union elections, says he has now lost his membership following the release of the report, meaning the union is currently without either of its founders and leaders.

The ADCU is best known for its pioneering work in the gig economy in the UK. It currently represents more than 7,500 gig economy workers across the country. In February 2021, it won a landmark labor law case against Uber in the UK’s Supreme Court.

The investigation and subsequent 77-page report was completed by Karon Monaghan, a barrister. It included 26 recommendations for the union, including a “full review” of employee terms and conditions, a ban on national executive committee members being employed in other jobs by the union, and that the union take more steps to support female drivers.

Monaghan previously conducted a report into the internal culture at the UK’s GMB trade union, finding that the organization was “institutionally sexist” and that bullying, misogyny, cronyism, and sexual harassment were endemic.

Abdurzak Hadi, the ADCU’s London chair, told WIRED on behalf of the union that its ruling national executive committee, or NEC, was “committed to implementing the recommendations in full” and that union leadership would now be consulting its membership on the report’s findings.

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