Ride-hailing giant Uber announced a ‘groundbreaking’ agreement with one of Britiain’s biggest trade unions to boost the rights of the firm’s drivers.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the GMB union will represent Uber’s 70,000 drivers in the UK in a move which could pave the way for a ‘fairer working life’ for millions of workers.
The deal means that the drivers will have the right to choose if, when and where they drive.
It marks the first time a ride-hailing company in the UK has formally recognised a trade union and entered into a collective bargaining agreement with them.
Ride-hailing giant Uber announced a ‘groundbreaking’ agreement with one of Britiain’s biggest trade unions to boost the rights of the firm’s drivers (Stock image)
The agreement follows changes made earlier this year guaranteeing drivers at least the national living wage, holiday pay and a pension plan.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.
Under the agreement, the GMB said it will work with Uber on a number of issues, including pay, pensions, discretionary benefits, and safety.
GMB national officer Mick Rix said: ‘This groundbreaking deal between GMB and Uber could be the first step to a fairer working life for millions of people.
‘History has been made. This agreement shows gig economy companies don’t have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights.
‘When tech private hire companies and unions work together like this, everyone benefits, bringing dignified, secure employment back to the world of work.
‘We now call on all other operators to follow suit.’
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said: ‘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.
‘Uber is the only major player in the industry to provide drivers with a national living wage guarantee, holiday pay and a pension, and this historic agreement means that Uber will be the first in the industry to ensure that its drivers also have full union representation.’
TUnder the collective bargaining agreement, the GMB union will represent Uber’s 70,000 drivers in the UK in a move which could pave the way for a ‘fairer working life’ for millions of workers (Stock image)
Andy McDonald, shadow employment rights and protections secretary, said: ‘This recognition deal is testament to the dedicated work of the GMB union in fighting for better terms and conditions for workers, and Uber has set an example that companies across the gig economy should follow.
‘This deal is good news for Uber drivers and shows the importance of trade unions in improving living standards, but there are still millions of workers in the gig economy who are without basic rights and protections, with no voice in the workplace who must not be abandoned by the Government.
‘Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Government must change the law to ensure that all gig economy workers receive full employment rights.’
The GMB said it will now be able to represent up to 70,000 Uber drivers across the UK.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘This landmark agreement is a huge breakthrough and will give Uber drivers a real voice at work.
‘The GMB deserve massive credit for their tireless campaigning, but this deal is just the start.
‘Unions won’t rest until platform companies across the gig economy agree to work with their staff on improving pay and conditions.’
Uber and other app-based gig economy companies have been facing pressure across Europe to reform labor models that are often blamed for precarious jobs and low salaries.
The GMB is more than 100 years old and represents 620,000 U.K. workers. Another group that led the legal challenge against Uber in the Supreme Court, the App Drivers & Couriers Union, greeted the announcement cautiously.
‘Overall, this is a step in the right direction, but there are significant obstacles in the way of ADCU reaching a similar agreement,’ including disagreement with the way Uber calculates minimum wage and holiday pay, it said.
The ADCU said it also has concerns about Uber’s motivations, and said it’s worried that the company is seeking to use the ‘appearance of blunt collective bargaining agreements’ to weaken the power of workers rather than strengthen them.