London: Uber, the US ride-hailing giant, announced on Wednesday that it has reached a “historic pact” with the British trade union to represent its 70,000 drivers in the UK after a court ruling granting them workers rights.
The GMB union stated that the collective bargaining agreement “shows that gig economy companies do not have to go to the desolate west on the borders of unrestricted employment rights.”
“When tech private hire companies and unions work together like this, everyone benefits — bringing dignified, secure employment back to the world of work,” GMB official Mick Rix said in a statement.
“We now call on all other operators to follow suit.”
Uber conferred official recognition on the union — which counts 620,000 members across various industries — in the wake of a ruling by Britain’s Supreme Court in February.
A month later, Uber complied by granting its British drivers worker status with benefits including a minimum wage and paid leave.
It represents a dramatic change in the business model of a company that has argued in courts in the UK and elsewhere that its drivers are self-employed freelancers and have resisted similar reforms in California.
Uber European Executive Jamie Heywood said: “Although Uber and GMB may not seem to be obvious allies, we always agree that drivers must go first. Today we have This important agreement was reached to improve the protection of workers.”
He pointed to the company’s previous commitment to British interests. He said: “This historic agreement means that Uber will be the first company in the industry to ensure that its drivers also have full union representation.”
Uber said that if they choose to register as a GMB member, it will provide support to drivers in the UK, and union representatives will gain access to the company’s support site to encourage members to drive.
-California’s “Intimidation Strategy”-
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, although Uber Eats has a strong demand for food delivery services during the national embargo, changes have taken place in the UK as Uber faces a reduction in driver bookings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, despite the court ruling incurring higher business costs, Uber said it does not expect this change to affect its net income this year.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in London’s “Night Standard” newspaper in March: “The future of work is too big for a full-scale solution, it doesn’t matter.”
Khosrowshahi has previously proposed a “third way” to classify “gig jobs” instead of classifying them as employees or independent contractors.
After the California Supreme Court held a referendum, the British Supreme Court made this ruling. The referendum regarded “dumb workers” like Uber drivers as free contractors.
Proposal 22 was passed in November and received strong support from Uber, Lyft, and other app-based delivery services, effectively overturning a state law that requires them to reclassify drivers and provide employee benefits.
But US labour groups such as the Services Employees International Union have pressed on with their campaigns. The SEIU has said Uber’s decision to grant worker status to British drivers debunked the “scare tactics” of rideshare companies in California.
In its first protest against the European Union, the Spanish government announced an agreement in March that would recognize drivers working for food delivery companies such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats as salaried people after complaining about their working conditions.
In Italy, prosecutors told Uber Eats and other food delivery platforms that their couriers were employees rather than independent workers and were fined 733 million euros for violating labor safety regulations.