The former Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann at a European parliament committee hearing in Brussels.
The whistleblower who revealed how Uber flouted the law and secretly lobbied governments around the world has called on European lawmakers to take on the “undemocratic” power held by tech companies.
Speaking in Brussels to a committee of MEPs, Mark MacGann, who was Uber’s top lobbyist in Europe, said the ride-hailing company’s practices were “borderline immoral”.
He hoped his testimony would help lawmakers understand why “giving disproportionate power in legislation to huge tech platforms risks shattering the social justice” MEPs sought to defend.
He urged lawmakers to ensure drivers were better protected by draft legislation being thrashed out by MEPs and EU ministers.
The EU is debating proposals that would require gig-economy companies to ensure workers get the minimum wage, sick pay and holidays.
It would also shift the burden of proof on employment status to companies.
Nicolas Schmit, the EU commissioner for jobs and social rights, said he was concerned his proposals were being watered down by EU ministers, by weakening the presumption of employee status.
MacGann said it would be unfair for drivers to have to hire expensive lawyers to prove they were employees. “Companies like Uber have so much money to drown you in legal fees,” he said.
The EU had been “complicit” in Uber’s practices by allowing member states “to fight against each other” to have the company set up in their country.
While MacGann said he did not believe “anyone was bribed or there was any active corruption”, the company had “unequal unprecedented access to the very highest levels” in every member state and the European Commission.
Being a whistleblower had been lonely.
He had tried twice to share his experiences with elected officials, he said, naming the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the European parliament’s employment and social affairs committee – the MEPs he was addressing.
When neither took him up, he handed 124,000 company files to the Guardian, which revealed how Uber flouted the law, duped police, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments.
The committee chair, Dragoş Pîslaru, described MacGann’s testimony as a “historic moment”.