Uber’s Guangzhou office is being accused of exploiting interns by using them as unpaid labour, and making them work for up to 15 hours a day. The ride-sharing service has also been accused of keeping 13 interns past graduation without providing them with employment agreements.
The accusations come courtesy of Li Yifan, a former operations assistant. Li was supposedly in charge of more than 20 interns at a time; which was only a fraction of the 50 interns working at the office. None of these interns had signed any agreements with Uber and were not offered any sort of compensation for their work. Other violations of Chinese labour laws were also alleged.
Ma Yingkai, of Nankai University, supported the claims. Ma had been an intern with Uber, but was fired for no trumped up reasons. He said that the entire team of interns had been suddenly dismissed after being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. Their manager had claimed that the interns were violating regulations by allowing banned drivers to return to service for profit; a claim that Ma denies.
To make matters worse for the unfortunate interns, none of them were supplied with an internship certificate; which is necessary for graduation.
A spokesman for Uber China said the 100 yuan per day allowance for interns is too high; and most internet companies and startups would not be able to afford interns if they did not opt for voluntary overtime. However, he did not comment when asked about the lack of actual wages, the provision of taxi-calling coupons in lieu of wages, no overtime pay, unsigned labour contracts, and not buying insurance for employees; all of which are violations of Chinese labour law.
Uber is not actually banned in China, and has been operating without problems from the Chinese government. Although, that will probably changed if regulators begin looking into the accusations. That being said, the exploitation of workers is not entirely a new thing to the country.