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Uber strikes ‘historic’ deal which will let 70,000 drivers become union members

Ride hailing app Uber has partnered with the GMB trade union for its workers.
Ride hailing app Uber has partnered with a trade union for its workers (Picture: PA)

As many as 70,000 UK taxi drivers will get trade union representation after Uber struck a ‘historic’ new deal.

The app-based ride service has partnered with the GMB union to give cabbies the right to choose if, when and where they drive.

Uber and other gig economy companies have previously been criticised for their resistance to providing protections for workers.

In February, the Supreme Court dismissed Uber’s appeal against a 2016 employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.

Uber says it is now the ‘only major player in the industry’ which pays drivers the national living wage of £8.91, holiday pay and a pension.

Under the collective bargaining agreement – a contract between a trade union and employer – GMB will represent drivers and work with Uber on issues including pay, pensions, discretionary benefits and workplace safety. Uber Eats couriers, however, will not be allowed the representation.

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.’

The union said it will now be able to represent all of Uber’s 70,000 drivers in the UK.

Uber calculates drivers’ working hours from the moment they accept a job, despite the Supreme Court ruling that they should be paid from when they log on to its app to work until they log off.

It is one of the issues that the GMB is likely to challenge Uber over, the Guardian reported.

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.

Earlier this year Uber drivers in the UK won a six-year battle to be recognised as workers.
Earlier this year Uber drivers in the UK won a six-year battle to be recognised as workers (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty)

Uber is the only major player in the industry to provide drivers with a national living wage guarantee, holiday pay and a pension. This historic agreement means that Uber will be the first in the industry to ensure that its drivers also have full union representation.’

MORE : What is the gig economy, and is it a good way to work?

MORE : Uber to treat its 70,000 UK drivers as workers after court ruling

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