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3 November 2016

Landmark court ruling in London gives basic employment rights to Uber drivers

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On Friday 28th of October, a ruling from the London employment tribunal affirmed that Uber drivers are entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the national minimum wage.

These test cases have been brought by the GMB union on behalf of two Uber drivers who argue that the cab-hailing firm was breaching the law by failing to provide them with basic employment rights. This case was testing whether the drivers could be considered workers or, as Uber still argues, as self-employed.

The London employment tribunal found that "The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common 'platform' is to our mind faintly ridiculous." “Drivers do not and cannot negotiate with passengers … They are offered and accept trips strictly on Uber’s terms”.

The GMB union described the decision as a "monumental victory" for some 40,000 drivers in England and Wales.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This case has exposed the dark side of so-called ‘flexible’ labour. For many workers the gig economy is a rigged economy, where bosses can get out of paying the minimum wage and providing basics like paid holidays and rest breaks”.

Uber said it would appeal against the ruling that it had acted unlawfully.

Christophe Degryse, Researcher - Head of the Foresight Unit, comments “Uber is technologically a company of the 21st century, but it seems to dream of working conditions from the 19th century. The work in the digital economy cannot be reduced to a mere commodity: it is not because you define yourself as a digital platform that you can avoid paying your taxes and social obligations.”

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