U.K.-based Uber drivers can now be formally represented by the union, which is able to collectively bargain on their behalf and can represent appealing drivers should they be blocked by the Uber app. The two parties will “work together” on such topics as national earning principles, drivers’ health and safety and their pension plan.
“Whilst Uber and GMB may not seem like obvious allies, we’ve always agreed that drivers must come first, and today we have struck this important deal to improve workers’ protections,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe.
The agreement follows a U.K. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year — won by GMB and the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) — which declared all Uber drivers to be “workers,” guaranteeing them a National Living Wage, holiday pay and a pension plan.
Uber took steps to comply with the ruling in March. But both the GMB and the ADCU have expressed concern over the fact that drivers’ working time is still only limited to time spent driving passengers: the Supreme Court had ruled working time should include “any period when a driver is logged into the app and ready and willing to accept trips.”
The ADCU wrote in an emailed statement it was “not prepared to enter into a recognition agreement with Uber” as the company “continues to violate basic employment law … despite the recent UK Supreme Court ruling in our favour.”
GMB’s National Officer Mick Rix hailed the agreement as a success. “This agreement shows gig economy companies don’t have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights,” he said. “When tech private hire companies and unions work together like this, everyone benefits … We now call on all other operators to follow suit.”
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