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Uber to recognise union in a boost for workers’ rights

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Written by: Emma Lunn
27/05/2021
Under a collective bargaining agreement, the trade union GMB will represent drivers across the UK.

It’s the first time a ride-hailing app in the UK has recognised a union. Drivers will retain the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive whilst also having the choice to be represented by GMB.

Since March Uber has guaranteed all drivers at least the National Living Wage, holiday pay and a pension plan. The move came after the business lost a Supreme Court case in February, which found that Uber was wrong to class its drivers as independent contractors and should instead treat them as employees.

The recognition of GMB enhances the protection of drivers further as Uber and GMB have pledged to come together to improve the future of ‘platform work’.

Under the landmark agreement, GMB and Uber will work together on a number of key topics including national earnings principles, pensions, discretionary benefits, health, safety and wellbeing, account deactivations, and representation.

Mick Rix, national officer at GMB, 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.”

Under the terms of this deal, Uber will now formally recognise GMB. Drivers won’t automatically become members and, for GMB representation, will have to sign up through the usual channels.

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