Uber faces legal action in UK over drivers’ rights (Wired UK)

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Drivers backed by the GMB union are taking legal action against Uber, arguing they should be treated as employees, not contractors.

GMB, the general trade union and union for professional drivers, said Uber had breached its duty to provide drivers with basic rights on pay, holiday, health and safety and discipline and grievances. At the centre of case is Uber’s assertion that drivers are “partners” and as such are not entitled to rights normally afforded to employees.

The union said Uber should conform to employment law and ensure that drivers are paid national minimum wage and receive statutory paid holiday. Uber should also ensure its drivers take rest breaks and do not work over a maximum number of hours per week.

GMB also said Uber should be required to implement a proper complaints system to stop drivers being suspended without an opportunity to challenge decisions. It isn’t clear how many Uber drivers are members of the union.

Steve Garelick, branch secretary of the GMB professional drivers branch, said the need to defend Uber drivers’ rights had become “an imperative”.

“Operators like Uber must understand that they have an ethical and social policy that matches societies’ expectations of fair and honest treatment,” he said in a statement.

“For far too long the public have considered drivers as almost ‘ghosts’. They are not seen as educated or with the same needs, aspirations and desires as the rest of the public.”

An Uber spokesperson told WIRED.co.uk that Uber drivers loved “being their own boss” and that as employees drivers would lose “the personal flexibility they most value”. The spokesperson said drivers used the app on their own terms, not Uber’s.

Legal action in the UK comes just weeks after a California court ruled a driver for Uber was an employee, not a contractor. Uber insisted the ruling only applied to the individual driver making the claim and said it would appeal the ruling. Classifying Uber drivers as employees would severely dent Uber’s profits and likely lower its $40bn (£25.62bn) valuation.

Nigel Mackay, a lawyer at Leigh Day, the law firm instructed to take legal action by GMB, said it was time Uber took “responsibility” for its drivers and treated them as any other employer does.

“A successful legal action against Uber could see substantial pay outs for drivers, including compensation for past failures by the company to make appropriate payments to who we argue are their workers,” he said.

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29 July 2015 | 10:01 am – Source: wired.co.uk


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