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Statement on Uber and the future of the gig economy

news Press Release 18 Mar 2021

Statement from ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton:

“Uber’s announcement on Tuesday that it would classify British drivers as ‘workers’ is a watershed moment in the global fight for rights in the gig economy.

In a turnabout that was only made possible because of years of organising, collective action and lawsuits by workers, Uber drivers in the UK will now be entitled to better pay and benefits. This is a testament to the power of collective action. When workers come together, they can create positive change for all. For its part, Uber has finally started to realise that its business cannot continue to function unless it grants workers the rights they deserve. Uber must abide by all the decisions in the Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for these changes.

Now the pressure is on other gig platforms to follow suit. Worker organising has already led to a slew of recent wins, from the Netherlands and Spain to Italy and Australia. But Deliveroo, the company hailed as a “great British success story,” appears increasingly out in the cold. As rival companies like Foodora, Just Eat and Hungry Panda concede greater rights and respect to riders, Deliveroo steadfastly refuses to engage. It has gone on a short-term charm offensive to coincide with its IPO, but shows no sign of introducing a minimum wage, holiday or sick pay, of halting unfair terminations, or tackling dangerous working conditions.

Now is the time for all platform work companies to listen to workers and ensure that all those in gig work have equal rights and protections under the law, as well as dignity. With its recent reversal, Uber itself has busted Deliveroo’s most enduring myth that flexibility is incompatible with greater rights. Investors should pay close attention: companies like Deliveroo can continue with deeply retrograde policies that stink of 19th century exploitation or read the room and fix their predatory business models once and for all.”