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GMB Wins Monumental Victory In Employment Case Against Uber

Friday, October 28, 2016

GMB Wins Monumental Victory In Employment Case Of The Year Against Uber

Similar contracts masquerading as bogus self employment will all be reviewed says GMB

GMB, the union for professional drivers, has won their case against Uber as the London Employment Tribunal has determined that Uber has acted unlawfully by not providing drivers with basic workers’ rights. (see notes to editors for previous press releases)

GMB brought two test cases to the Central London Employment Tribunal on 20 July 2016 and it has decided that Uber drivers are entitled to receive holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks. The Tribunal decision will have major implications for over 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for workers in other occupations.

GMB found last year that a member working exclusively for Uber received just £5.03 per hour in August after costs and fees were taken into account, significantly below the national minimum wage of £7.20. Lawyers for the drivers also argued that Uber acts unlawfully by frequently deducting sums from drivers’ pay, often without informing the drivers in advance, including when customers make complaints.

Maria Ludkin, GMB Legal Director, said:

"This is a monumental victory that will have a hugely positive impact on over 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife.

Uber drivers and other directed workers do have legal rights at work. The question for them now is how those rights are enforced in practice. The clear answer is that the workforce must combine into the GMB union to force the company to recognise these rights and to negotiate fair terms and conditions for the drivers.

This loophole that has allowed unscrupulous employers to avoid employment rights, sick pay and minimum wage for their staff and costing the government millions in lost tax revenue will now be closed.

Uber drivers and thousands of others caught in the bogus self-employment trap will now enjoy the same rights as employees. This outcome will be good for passengers too. Properly rewarded drivers are the same side of the coin as drivers who are properly licensed and driving well maintained and insured vehicles.

GMB will be getting on with the business of campaigning and recruiting at Uber to ensure our members’ rights are respected.

GMB will give evidence to the new Taylor review on terms and conditions within the sectors of the economy offering precarious employment. We will make the case that average hours worked over the past 12 weeks should be deemed to be the contracted hours of work for those on zero hours as it already is for maximum hours of work under the Working Time Directive.

GMB puts employers on notice that we are reviewing similar contracts masquerading as bogus self employment, particularly prevalent in the so called ‘gig economy’. This is old fashioned exploitation under newfangled jargon, but the law will force you to pay GMB members what they are rightfully due.”

 

Nigel Mackay, Leigh Day employment lawyer, said:

 “We are delighted that the Employment Tribunal has found in favour of our clients.

“This judgment acknowledges the central contribution that Uber’s drivers have made to Uber’s success by confirming that its drivers are not self-employed but that they work for Uber as part of the company’s business.

“Uber drivers often work very long hours just to earn enough to cover their basic living costs. It is the work carried out by these drivers that has allowed Uber to become the multi-billion-dollar global corporation it is.

“We are pleased that the employment tribunal has agreed with our arguments that drivers are entitled to the most basic workers’ rights, including to be paid the National Minimum Wage and to receive paid holiday, which were previously denied to them.

“This is a ground-breaking decision. It will impact not just on the thousands of Uber drivers working in this country, but on all workers in the so-called gig economy whose employers wrongly classify them as self-employed and deny them the rights to which they are entitled.”

END

Contact: GMB Legal Director Maria Ludkin on 07956 632 657 or GMB press office on 07358 156846 or press.office@gmb.org.uk or Steve Garelick on 07565 456776.

Notes to editors:

GMB press release dated 20 July 2016

GMB To Fight ‘Employment Case Of The Year’ Against Uber Today

 

Uber is a multinational, multibillion dollar company and they are unlawfully denying their drivers fundamental rights as workers says GMB.

 

GMB, the union for private hire drivers, will bring two test cases to the Central London Employment Tribunal today (Wednesday 20th July), which will determine whether Uber is acting unlawfully by not providing drivers with basic workers’ rights.

 

The Tribunal will determine whether Uber drivers should be entitled to receive holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks. The Tribunal could have major implications for the more than 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for workers in other occupations.  It is the first time that the company will have faced legal action in the UK over whether their drivers are workers or self-employed.

 

The hearing will see cases brought by GMB using law firm Leigh Day which will have an impact on a further 17 claims that have been brought against Uber.

 

GMB found last year that a member working exclusively for Uber received just £5.03 per hour in August after costs and fees were taken into account, significantly below the national minimum wage of $7-20. Lawyers for the drivers will also claim that Uber acts unlawfully by frequently deducting sums from drivers’ pay, often without informing the drivers in advance, including when customers make complaints.

 

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said “The bogus classification of self-employment is a growing problem, where employment laws exist then every employer must be required to follow them.  GMB is proudto be bringing this claim against Uber and challenging the growing and pernicious practice by companies of wrongly claiming that workers are self-employed.

 

Uber is a multinational, multibillion dollar company and GMB believes they are unlawfully denying their drivers fundamental rights which are designed to ensure workers can enjoy a minimum standard of living.

 

Uber drivers face very difficult working conditions and with cuts to fares we believe that some of our members are taking home less than the national minimum wage when you take into account the costs of running a car.

 

GMB believes this could pose a safety risk to drivers, their passengers and other road users as some drivers are forced into working longer and longer hours in order to make ends meet, at the same time as being unable to take any paid holiday or have an entitlement to rest breaks that other workers have.”

 

Annie Powell, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, said “Uber currently denies that its drivers are entitled to the most basic of workers’ rights. Uber’s defence is that it is just a technology company, not a taxi company, and that Uber drivers do not work for Uber but instead work for themselves as self-employed business men and women.

 

We will argue that Uber exerts significant control over its drivers in order to provide an on-demand taxi service to the public. If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards those drivers as workers.

 

This claim is vital for the thousands of Uber drivers who work in England and Wales and has implications even wider than that. We are seeing a creeping erosion of employment rights as companies misclassify their workers as self-employed so as to avoid paying them holiday pay and the national minimum wage.”

 

End

 

  1. GMB press release dated 17 December 2015

 

HEARING THAT GMB UBER DRIVERS ARE WORKERS ENTITLED TO RIGHTS AT WORK IN CENTRAL LONDON EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL ON 18TH DECEMBER

 

Uber drivers are directed workers and as such are entitled to employment protection says GMB

 

The first hearing of the claim for GMB members driving for Uber that the company is in breach of a legal duty to provide them with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety and on discipline and grievances will take place from 10am tomorrow (18th December) at the Central London Employment Tribunal. See notes to editors for copies of previous GMB press releases.

GMB has instructed Leigh Day to represent members and to contest the Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” so are not entitled to rights normally afforded to workers.

 

Uber operates a car hire platform that connects passengers to thousands of drivers through an app on the passenger’s smartphone.

 

Using the app, passengers can request they are picked up from any location within London (or 300 other cities worldwide). Passengers pay Uber for the journey, which then passes on a percentage of that payment to the driver.

 

Elly Baker, GMB National Officer, said “This hearing on the GMB claim that Uber should conform to employment law begins tomorrow. Uber are claiming that because it is registered in Holland that it should not be subject the UK laws.

GMB contend that:

 

Uber should ensure that its drivers are paid the national minimum wage and that they receive their statutory entitlement to paid holiday. Currently Uber does not ensure these rights for its drivers;

 

Uber should address serious health and safety issues. Currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week. GMB content that this provides a substantial risk to all road users given that, according to Uber’s CEO, there will be 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016;

 

Uber should adhere to legal standards on discipline and grievances. Currently drivers have being suspended or deactivated by Uber after having made complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.

 

GMB say that Uber drivers are directed workers and as such are entitled to employment protection.

 

One driver who works exclusively for Uber as a cab driver in London was paid £5.03 net per hour for 234 hours driving during August calendar month. This is £1.47 per hour below the then national minimum wage of £6.50 per hour.”

 

END

 

  1. GMB press release dated 24 November 2015

 

Uber Latest Figures Show Higher Commission For New Drivers Lowering Earnings By £1 Per Hour To £5.68 Per Hour For Top Paid Drivers In London

 

The extra commission is costing drivers between £50 and £70 per week or £1 per hour which that cannot afford to lose says GMB.

 

GMB Uber drivers, using the companies own figures, assess that hourly earnings for new Uber drivers are £1 per hour lower than they would be for existing drivers and are just above £14 per hour before costs when the commission hike of 5% is applied.

 

On 12 November GMB held a protest demonstration at Uber's office in London to co-incide with the commission for new Uber drivers increasing by a quarter from 20% to 25% as of that date. This increase will cut the incomes of up to 20,000 cab drivers by up to £50 per week.  It could yield up to £50m additional revenue per year to Uber. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release on Uber matters.

 

On 29th Oct solicitors Leigh Day, on behalf of GMB members working for Uber, issued a claim at the London Central Employment Tribunal that the company does not provide drivers with basic workers’ rights. Uber is in breach of a legal duty to provide drivers with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety and on raising complaints.

 

Set out in the table below are gross weekly income and typical operating costs to arrive at the net take home figure for a new top driver

 

Weekly UberX income 46.1 hours at £19                 £875.90

Less:

Uber commission at 25%                                       £218.98

Prius PCO rental                                                    £270.00

Fuel                                                                      £100.00

Uber devices and network fee                                £5.00

Car Wash                                                              £15.00

Mobile phone costs                                               £5.00

Total costs to be deducted                                    £613.98

 

Net weekly income                                                 £261.92

Net income per hour                                              £5.68

 

James Farrar, GMB union representative for Uber drivers, said “Uber says it's top drivers gross £19 per hour and they work 46.1 hours per week. But after commission and easily estimated operating cost drivers, at best, are taking home just £5.68 per hour, 15% below the national minimum wage. And remember, these are just the ‘top drivers’, it doesn’t even represent what average drivers make.

 

Uber says it looks at driver's income very carefully - I don't doubt they do - which makes their decision to grab another 5% commission off the top unconscionable. The extra commission is costing drivers £50-70 per week or £1 per hour which that they cannot afford to lose.

 

Uber will say that driver operating models vary greatly and it’s up to us to control costs. But that just isn’t the case. The largest typical cost item is car rental and the £270 pcm figure above comes from PCO Rentals, an approved supplier listed in the Uber Marketplace. £100 per week in fuel is a more than reasonable estimate and the rest of the costs are self-explanatory. These are typical costs for thousands of drivers no matter how hard Uber try to spin otherwise.

Also consider that the hours calculated here are just the logged in hours and total on the road hours including positioning, rest breaks, fueling, cleaning etc are likely to be another 30% which further dilutes even these best case figures.

 

Yet besides the obvious driver financial deprivation, long hours and increasingly congested streets, rather than suspend or slow down on boarding or raise prices – Uber adds to the suffering by making a grab for another 5% commission.

 

Over the past year private hire drivers have seen their incomes go into free fall and costs escalate. TfL is adding an additional 1,000 new licensees to streets every month in London which has led to market saturation, huge increases in private hire vehicle rental costs & more congestion in London impacting productivity.

 

Because Uber acts as a rentier and dis-intermediator it has slashed prices three times knowing that it is drivers that will ultimately bear the cost not the $40 billion global corporation. Now to profiteer further it has increased its share of the fare by 5% pushing drivers even further into poverty.”

 

End

 

  1. GMB press release dated 28 October 2015

 

GMB Claim That Uber Drivers Are Workers Entitled To Rights At Work Lodged In The London Employment Tribunal

 

If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards those drivers as workers says GMB

 

A claim on behalf of GMB members working for the taxi hailing app Uber, will be issued tomorrow Thursday 29th October 2015 at the London Central Employment Tribunal on behalf of drivers who claim the ride sharing enterprise does not provide them with basic workers’ rights. See Notes to Editors for copy of the GMB press release dated 29th July 2015 on the matter.

Elly Baker, GMB National Officer said, “The first four claims being brought on behalf of GMB members working for Uber will be issued Thursday 29th October 2015. It claims that Uber drivers are workers, that there is a failure by Uber to pay their drivers a national minimum wage or provide any form of holiday pay.

 

Further claims will be issued on behalf of GMB member drivers in the coming weeks and asking the Employment Tribunal to hear all of the claims together.

 

Uber frequently deducts sums from its drivers’ pay, without telling them in advance, including where customers make complaints.

 

It also alleges that one claimant’s contract was terminated after he highlighted how easy it was for drivers to upload false insurance documents to Uber, demonstrating serious concerns about the company’s procedure for checking the documents provided by drivers.

 

Steve Garelick, GMB Professional Drivers Branch Secretary, said “Despite our best efforts Uber are continuing to ignore drivers’ needs.

 

They have now forced a contract on drivers who are no longer partners but customers and are failing to cap driver intake further eroding the facility to earn a reasonable income.

 

Drivers have little interaction with management who’s preference is to respond on a message based ticket system.

 

This shows disdain for the drivers. GMB hope more drivers will approach us for this remarkable action.”

 

Nigel Mackay a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day who is representing the drivers explained: “We understand that this will be the first time legal proceedings against Uber have been issued in the UK employment tribunals.

 

We believe that Uber owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other company does to its workers. Uber drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave.

 

Uber drivers should be protected from detrimental treatment if they raise serious concerns about unlawful activity. They should be able to work without fear of discrimination.

 

Uber exerts significant amounts of control over its drivers in order to provide a particular offering to the public, which it sees as differentiating itself from other taxi services. If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards those drivers as workers.”

 

 END

 

5. GMB press release dated 29 July 2015

 

Leigh Day Legal Action For GMB Uber Drivers To Secure Rights On Pay, Holidays, Health And Safety, Discipline And Grievances

 

The Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” who are not entitled to rights at work normally afforded to workers will be legally contested in court says GMB

 

GMB, the union for professional drivers, has instructed Leigh Day to take legal action in the UK on behalf of members driving for Uber on the grounds that Uber is in breach of a legal duty to provide them with basic rights on pay, holidays, health and safety and on discipline and grievances.

 

GMB is contesting the Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” so are not entitled to rights normally afforded to workers.

 

Uber operates a car hire platform that connects passengers to thousands of drivers through an app on the passenger’s smartphone.

 

Using the app, passengers can request they are picked up from any location within London (or 300 other cities worldwide). Passengers pay Uber for the journey, which then passes on a percentage of that payment to the driver.

 

GMB claim that Uber should conform to employment law as follows:

 

· Uber should ensure that its drivers are paid the national minimum wage and that they receive their statutory entitlement to paid holiday. Currently Uber does not ensure these rights for its drivers

 

· Uber should address serious health and safety issues. Currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week. GMB content that this provides a substantial risk to all road users given that, according to Uber’s CEO, there will be 42,000 Uber drivers in London in 2016.

 

· Uber should adhere to legal standards on discipline and grievances. Currently drivers have being suspended or deactivated by Uber after having made complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given any opportunity to challenge this.

 

Nigel Mackay, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, said “The Uber assertion that drivers are “partners” who are not entitled to rights at work normally afforded to workers is being contested.

 

Uber not only pays the drivers but it also effectively controls how much passengers are charged and requires drivers to follow particular routes. As well as this, it uses a ratings system to assess drivers’ performance.

 

We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that it owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other employer does to its workers. In particular, its drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave.

 

Uber should also take responsibility for its drivers, making sure they take regular rest breaks.

 

If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards its drivers and the public.

 

A successful legal action against Uber could see substantial pay outs for drivers, including compensation for past failures by the company to make appropriate payments to who we argue are their workers.”

 

Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary of GMB Professional Drivers Branch, said “The need for a union to defend working drivers’ rights has become an imperative.

 

Operators like Uber must understand that they have an ethical and social policy that matches societies’ expectations of fair and honest treatment.

 

For far too long the public have considered drivers as almost ‘ghosts”. They are not seen as educated or with the same needs, aspirations and desires as the rest of the public.”

 

END

 

 

 

 

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