Uber pays $178 million to end legal fight with Australian taxi drivers

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SYDNEY — Global rideshare giant Uber will pay 272 million Australian dollars ($178 million) to settle a long-running dispute with Australian taxi and hire car drivers who lost out when the company entered the Australian market.

A class action against Uber had been expected to go to trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday, but Maurice Blackburn Lawyers — representing 8,000 taxi and hire car drivers — said the case will be dropped because Uber agreed to the financial settlement.

Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Michael Donelly said that drivers and car owners suffered financial losses due to Uber’s aggressive entry into the market in 2012 and that the company consistently attempted to avoid compensating them.

“On the courtroom steps and after years of refusing to do the right thing by those we say they harmed, Uber has blinked, and thousands of everyday Australians joined together to stare down a global giant,” he said.

An Uber statement described the complaints of the taxi industry as “legacy issues” and said rideshare regulations did not exist anywhere in the world when the company started more than a decade ago.

“The rise of ridesharing has grown Australia’s overall point-to-point transport industry, bringing with it greater choice and improved experiences for consumers, as well as new earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers,” the statement said.

“Since 2018, Uber has made significant contributions into various state-level taxi compensation schemes, and with today’s proposed settlement, we put these legacy issues firmly in our past.”

It’s the fifth-largest class action settlement in Australia’s history and comes five years after the action was launched.

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