TAXI COMPANY LOSES APPEAL OVER WORKERS’ RIGHTS CONDITIONS
TAXI app Uber lost a bid last Friday (10) to overturn a decision by a tribunal which had said its drivers deserved workers’ rights such as the minimum wage, in a blow to the company as it also battles to keep its licence in London.
Uber immediately said it would appeal to higher courts against the decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in central London.
Last year, two drivers successfully argued at a British employment tribunal that Uber exerted significant control over them to provide an on-demand taxi service and should grant them workers’ rights such as holiday entitlement and rest breaks.
That decision did not automatically apply to the app’s 50,000 drivers in Britain but was seen as likely to prompt more claims. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which backed the two drivers, said these companies were “choo-sing to deprive workers of their rights”.
“Today’s victory is further proof, as if any more was needed, that the law is clear and these companies are simply choosing to deprive workers of their rights,” said Jason Moyer-Lee, the IWGB’s general secretary.
Yaseen Aslam, one of the drivers involved in the case, said they would continue their fight to ensure workers’ rights were respected.
“I am glad that the judge today confirmed what I and thousands of drivers have known all along: that Uber is not only exploiting drivers, but also acting unlawfully,” he said.
Both Aslam and his co-claimant, former driver James Farrar, said they had stopped working for Uber because they could not afford it – but would go back if their status changed. Farrar said drivers make about £5 an hour, but have to cover about £400 a week in fixed costs.
Uber disputes this, saying that last year British drivers made average fares of £15 an hour. It cites polling showing nine out of ten drivers are satisfied with working for them.
Uber says its drivers enjoy the flexibility of their work and are self-employed, entitling them in British law to only basic entitlements such as health and safety.
Last Friday it confirmed it would appeal against the latest decision. A spokesman said the company had 14 days to submit its application and decide whether to apply to take the case to the supreme court.
The firm is currently fighting a decision by London authorities not to renew its licence owing to public safety concerns.
Transport for London shocked Uber in September by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its licence, citing their approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers. (Agencies)