Joint ITUC/ITF press release: Global union organisations welcome UK Uber ruling

The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) have welcomed the latest ruling that Uber drivers in the UK are workers rather than self-employed freelances and deserve to receive basic workers’ rights: a guaranteed minimum wage, breaks, holiday pay and whistleblower protection.

This latest landmark ruling was delivered by the London Employment Tribunal on Friday, in a case brought by ITF and ITUC member union the GMB. (Visit www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/GMB-wins-uber-case to see the history of the case and the GMB’s response to the win.)  It found that Uber drivers in the UK – 30,000 of whom work in London – are workers within the meaning of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and therefore entitled to basic employment rights. It is the latest successful union-led challenge to Uber’s claims that its drivers are self-employed contractors, and follows similar cases in Copenhagen, Buenos Aires and New York (see https://goo.gl/opn7oe, https://goo.gl/E1JhBZ and https://goo.gl/INrzTB.
 
 “ITUC polling shows that 82 percent of people want workers employed by companies like Uber to have the same basic rights and entitlements as other employees. Uber’s workers have the weight of public opinion on their side, and its UK workforce now has the protection of the law,” ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow commented. “We can expect a huge publicity, legal and lobbying effort from Uber to overturn this common sense decision, just as it has done elsewhere when efforts have been made to apply the rule of law to its informal-economy business model.”
 
The United Nations’ womens’ arm, UN Women, last year called off a proposed partnership with Uber following a storm of criticism about the company’s precarious, low-wage employment model. (See https://goo.gl/4oExwf and https://goo.gl/nZ0HLX.)
 
Sharan Burrow concluded: “Workers in so-called platform economy companies across the world are demanding their rights, with unions helping them to get organised and take on the legal and political battles for decent incomes and working conditions. Governments need to take a close look at the tax affairs of these companies too, as well as how they use the huge amounts of data they harvest from consumers and their employees.”
 
ITF President Paddy Crumlin stated: “This judgment tears away the mask of driver independence that Uber has so assiduously cultivated. In Copenhagen, in New York, in London, Paris, Brussels and beyond – with more cases certain to come – the challenges are being heard and the courts are making clear that workers deserve workers’ rights."
 
ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton added: “What the travelling public want and deserve are safe, regulated taxi services, whose drivers have the basic rights and protections that make them fit to take to the road. The use of taxi booking apps has been undermining this goal, raising worrying questions of exploitation, deregulation and non-payment of tax. This latest ruling is a significant step forward to forcing these new employers to face up to their responsibilities to their workers and the general public.”
 
ENDS
 
For more details please contact
ITF: Sam Dawson. Email: dawson_sam@itf.org.uk. Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260. Mobile: +44 (0)7850 736146
 
ITUC: Tim Noonan. Email. Tim.Noonan@ituc-csi.org. Tel: +32 (0)2 224 0211  
 
 

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