The Berlinale’s partnership with Uber harms Berlin

A letter to the film festival managment

15 February 2023 by Klaus Meier 

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Today, Thursday 16.2.2023, I will join like-minded people in protesting against Uber as a Berlinale sponsor. This will take place from 6pm, either at the Berlinale-Palast or in front of Alte Postdamer Straße number 6, at the corner Varian-Fry-Straße. You can recognise us by our signs.

I have also sent the following letter, slightly modified, to the Berlinale’s financial backer (almost 13 million euros), Kulturstaatsministerin Claudia Roth and Berlin’s Senator for Culture Dr. Klaus Lederer.

To the artistic and management board of the
Film Festival Berlinale 2023

Dear Ms. Rissenbeek, Dear Mr. Chatrian, Dear Ms. Schafroth,

I was astonished to learn that this year for the first time you have invited the US corporation Uber as a main sponsor to benefit from the Berlinale’s good image.

As a Berlin taxi social helper, I am extensively familiar with the practices of employers in the taxi and rental car industry and see Uber as the main culprit for systematic wage dumping with massive undercutting of the legal minimum wage in the industry. In this way, the company is obviously aiming to squeeze out Berlin’s taxi companies, which we need as part of local public transport and basic public services.

I am particularly concerned about the employees of the rental car companies associated with Uber and the employees or micro-self-employed of the Berlin taxi companies. They can no longer make a living from their work. Uber-affiliated companies mainly employ immigrants whose training and integration is prevented by the exploitative working conditions - to their detriment and to the detriment of all of us.

It is well known that Uber systematically ignores court rulings that are supposed to protect us all from the loss of taxis, and this is not only the case in Germany. Uber’s worldwide operations are now well researched: hitherto adequately paid work is replaced by dumping offers. The billion-dollar company tries to take over local markets as a monopolist in order to determine prices and working conditions alone.

Uber is responsible for much human suffering. In Mumbai, for example, this affects several hundred thousand drivers of taxis and rental cars. In Berlin, several tens of thousands suffer directly from the company’s strategy.

I assume that you were not aware of the scale and scope of the problem when you entered into the partnership with Uber. The company’s representatives also skilfully bend reality to their own advantage.

I therefore ask you, dear Ms Rissenbeek, dear Mr Chatrian, dear Ms Schafroth, to repair the damage done as far as possible and in future to link the selection of sponsors to fundamental ethical criteria. Venice is doing something about monstrous cruise ships, Cannes wants no more oligarch super yachts, Berlin should be about the welfare of economically vulnerable people. Thank you very much!

Together with the Berlin Taxi Guild’s representative for taxi stands, I ask you to do something for the visitors of the Berlinale and for Berlin’s taxis.

Have taxi ranks set up in front of all festival cinemas in the future. The Berlin taxi dispatcher should be informed in advance of the end of all events so that taxis can be made available for festival visitors.

Take the initiative and invite the S-Bahn, the BVG, the taxi associations and the trade union ver.di to jointly develop an ethically sustainable transport concept for the Berlinale 2024.

I am at your disposal for a discussion at any time.

Yours sincerely,
Klaus Meier

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