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Uber Agrees To Have A Driver’s Union In UK – A First For The Global Firm


05/28/2021


Uber Agrees To Have A Driver’s Union In UK – A First For The Global Firm
The ride hailing company Uber has agreed to allow a workers’ union at the company in the United Kingdom which is the first for the Silicon Valley company anywhere in its global operations.
 
The GMB union, the largest in the UK, will now be allowed to represent tens of thousands of Uber drivers in the UK and giving the opportunity for the drivers to have collective bargaining powers. This was announced by the trade union and the company on Wednesday.
 
This measure was taken by the ride hailing company after it lost out a case earlier this year in the UK Supreme Court which identified drivers of Uber in the UK were workers and therefore had rights to be given the minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions.
 
“You may think that Uber and the GMB don’t seem like obvious allies but we’ve always agreed that drivers must come first,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe. “We are breaking new ground.”
 
However the ride hailing company has said that the agreement with GMB union does not include negotiations and collective bargaining over earnings which include bargaining for implementing the minimum wage.
 
Uber will “consult in some areas, collectively bargain in others”, Heywood said, without providing any further details.
 
Uber has been criticised by some campaigners of overlooking the ruling of the Supreme Court about drivers being paid whenever they get logged into the company’s app – including the time between jobs. Currently, Uber only pays at least the statutory minimum wage to its drivers for the time period that they are assigned on a customer’s trip.
 
The deal “will give Uber confidence, and it will give the labour movement globally confidence, to sit down and replicate what we’re doing and try and better it”, said Mick Rix, a national officer at the GMB.
 
Uber had been approached years ago by the GMB, which is one of the big, traditional unions of the UK, the union said. However the company seemed to be more interested in speeding up talks after the ruling from the UK Supreme Court on February.
 
Unionization has been opposed for years by companies in the so called gig economy such as Uber and have argued that the flexible working structures that these companies allow as well as the fluctuating demand from customers is very different from the traditional employment structures and hence their stance.
 
Last year in California in eth United States, voters approved Proposition 22 which essentially exempted companies in the gig economy from a new employment law while cementing the position of drivers as independent contractors. This was reportedly after some vigorous campaigning by Uber and its rivals.
 
The ocmp[any has however started to shift its position in Europe with growing pressure on it form governments and magistrates to recognize its drivers as employees. The company has also arrived at agreements for collective bargaining agreements for its food delivery couriers in Italy while fleet-management companies are responsible for employing drivers for Uber in Germany.
 
(Source:www.ft.com)