Uber and GMB pledge to end driver exploitation

Uber’s UK boss and the chief of UK commerce union GMB have dedicated to ending the exploitation of greater than 200,000 drivers of their first assembly since signing a collective bargaining settlement – however different unions declare it’s merely a public relations stunt.

The ride-hailing app and the union signed a collective bargaining settlement on 26 May 2021, permitting GMB to signify up to 70,000 UK Uber drivers in negotiations with the corporate on points similar to pensions and office security. This was the primary time Uber has recognised a union of its drivers wherever on the planet.

The settlement adopted Uber’s defeat within the UK Supreme Court in February 2021, when the agency was ordered to reclassify its UK drivers as staff, entitling them to higher office circumstances and protections for the primary time, together with the correct to be paid the nationwide minimal wage.

The Supreme Court’s determination was the end result of a number of makes an attempt by Uber to have the ruling of an October 2016 employment tribunal, which decided that drivers needs to be handled as staff moderately than self-employed people, overturned.

In a joint statement revealed forward of the assembly, GMB and Uber mentioned that with greater than 300,000 drivers working within the ride-hailing and personal rent car (PHV) business, there are nonetheless an estimated 230,000 drivers “not receiving their legal rights” from corporations similar to Bolt and Addison Lee.

“The ground-breaking deal between GMB and Uber was the first step towards a fairer working life for millions of people,” mentioned GMB common secretary Gary Smith. “It confirmed that when corporations and commerce unions work collectively, requirements could be raised throughout these industries.

“Earlier this year, the Supreme Court set a precedent for all ride-hailing apps to provide drivers with workers’ rights such as holiday pay and a pension. Uber has done this for its 70,000 drivers, but there are more than 200,000 more working for other operators who are still denied these basic legal rights.”

Smith added: “GMB and Uber today take the next step in our commitment to ending the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of ride-hailing app drivers.”

Jamie Heywood, Uber regional common supervisor for Northern and Eastern Europe, praised the “historic agreement” between the 2, including: “We hope that working constructively with GMB will show the rest of the industry what can be achieved, ensuring that all drivers, no matter who they work with, receive the rights and protections they are entitled to.”

However, the settlement between Uber and GMB doesn’t enable collective bargaining over drivers’ earnings, together with the agency’s implementation of the minimal wage.

Computer Weekly understands that the union will nonetheless have the ability to “consult” on pay, which legally differs from bargaining within the sense that it’s merely an trade of opinions between events, moderately than a proper negotiation.

Uber was contacted about why the settlement doesn’t enable for bargaining over earnings, however declined to remark.

Responding to Uber and GMB’s joint name for different personal rent operators to respect the rights of staff, the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) mentioned its members had been “concerned and distressed” by the feedback made, mentioning that Uber itself had not revered the Supreme Court ruling by deciding to pay drivers solely from the time they’re assigned to journeys moderately than, because the courtroom explicitly dominated, from after they log in to the app.

“We are appalled by Uber’s ongoing PR campaign, which deliberately misinforms the public and policy-makers about its true position on workers’ rights,” mentioned ADCU president Yaseen Aslam and common secretary James Farrar in a joint assertion, who had been the primary claimants within the Supreme Court case in opposition to Uber. “Uber continues to be in violation of UK employment legislation, is failing to implement the Supreme Court ruling and is engaged in ongoing litigation in opposition to tens of 1000’s of drivers representing nearly all of its workforce.

“It has started new litigation in the High Court against ADCU and others to undermine the Supreme Court ruling, to avoid £2.5bn in back VAT payments and to cut the link between workers’ rights and its duty to obey all laws as a publicly licensed transport operator. This corporate media campaign is not only offensive to hardworking Uber drivers but, frankly, it is a propaganda campaign corrosive to the public interest.”

ADCU added that Uber additionally continues to “flout data protection law in the UK” by denying 1000’s of drivers the correct to entry the non-public information used to make selections about their employment, in addition to unfairly dismissing drivers with out recourse due to an “unfair and racially biased facial recognition system used in identity checks”.

Computer Weekly requested Uber to reply to ADCU’s feedback, however had obtained no response by time of publication.

The International Workers Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) department additionally took difficulty with Uber and GMB’s pledge for related causes, Tweeting that “first Uber needs to get its own house in order” and respect the Supreme Court ruling.

“After the Supreme Court ruling, Uber has a natural interest to try to level the playing field for itself with other companies in the sector,” it mentioned. “We agree that it’s important for Bolt, Ola, Free Now and all the remaining to clear up their acts and respect driver rights.

“That Uber is now trying to lead the charge on this fight shows that it was the right strategy for drivers to take on Uber – the biggest player – first, in order to then change conditions across the sector.”

Addison Lee chief govt Liam Griffin rejected the declare by Uber and GMB that its drivers had been being exploited, telling the BBC that drivers had been “at the heart” of its enterprise.

“We guarantee the drivers that work with us get the London Living Wage level of earnings, as opposed to only the National Minimum Wage paid by Uber,” mentioned Griffin. “Drivers working with Addison Lee also get access to a pension and holiday pay.”

Bolt responded by saying that its personal drivers had been “free to choose which platform they use and record numbers are continuing to earn through Bolt”.

It added: “They tell us that’s because they can take home more money. That’s not exploitation, it’s competition. We don’t take business advice from competitors motivated by their own agenda.”

Addison Lee’s Griffin mentioned a decline in driver earnings and wellbeing throughout the business was a “product of Uber’s operating practices and predatory pricing model”, which had led to a race to the underside and threatened drivers’ livelihoods.

Uber responded by saying that its drivers had been making “more than ever before driving with Uber, so the claim of a race to the bottom is totally untrue”.

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