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Union win: Swiss Uber Eats workers reclassified as genuine employees

10 Sep 2020
Press Release

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) congratulates Swiss union Unia on their successful efforts to convert precariously-employed food delivery workers to genuine employees in Geneva.

More than 500 Uber Eats delivery workers will now be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. This means that delivery workers will immediately receive a base wage of 20.65 Swiss francs per hour (approximately US$22.50), four weeks of annual leave, protection in the event of illness or accident, and access to unemployment insurance.

“We are pleased to see that Uber Eats delivery workers in Geneva will finally be treated as real employees,” said Unia secretary Umberto Bandiera. Unia has supported delivery riders since Uber Eats arrived in Switzerland in 2018. “Our wish is that the rest of Switzerland will follow suit and ensure compliance with our labour laws,” added Bandiera.

Uber Eats sent an unexpected message to its delivery workers in Geneva in late August informing riders that they would all become regular employees of Chaskis SA, a Swiss company that Uber Eats has partnered with.

The Canton of Geneva called on app-based food delivery services to “respect the law” by recognizing delivery workers as employees in June 2019. A subsequent court decision in June this year put further pressure on Uber Eats and its competitors.

“We will continue to push for the rights of Uber Eats workers. Food delivery workers should be receiving all the benefits and improved working conditions prescribed under the national sectoral agreement for the hotel and restaurant industries,” said Bandiera.

“This is an important victory for these workers and for all of us,” said Baker Khundakji, the ITF’s Young Transport Workers’ Officer. “Going forward, Uber Eats must not only require workers on their platform to be employees but employ them directly. We will use every opportunity whether it’s dialogue or campaigning in order to influence policy regulations and support these workers become represented,” added Khundakji.

Uber has filed an appeal to the Federal Court, whose ruling is expected early next year. The Court’s decision will set a precedent that will apply to all of Switzerland.

Meanwhile in the United States, Uber and other gig economy companies have contributed over US$180 million towards their legislative campaign to overturn California’s historic Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which prohibits the misclassification of workers, including food delivery workers, as independent contractors.

The ITF is working closely with its almost 700 union affiliates to address the impacts of the future of work on transport workers. This includes campaigning for decent working conditions for gig economy workers through supporting them to organise and mobilising to influence local, regional and global policy.

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