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Uber and GMB strike historic union deal for 70,000 UK drivers

26 May 2021
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Uber will formally recognise GMB, which will now be able to represent up to 70,000 Uber drivers across the UK

GMB union and Uber have today announced a groundbreaking trade union recognition deal. Under the collective bargaining agreement, the trade union will represent drivers across the UK.

Drivers will retain the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive whilst also having the choice to be represented by GMB.

This builds on changes made earlier this year which guarantee all drivers at least the National Living Wage (although drivers can and do earn more), holiday pay and a pension plan.

Uber is the only major private hire operator to offer these protections, and no other operator has followed this move.

Today, the protection of drivers will be advanced even further as Uber and GMB pledge to come together to improve the future of platform work.

Uber will also support drivers if they choose to sign up as a member of GMB, and union representatives will have a presence in Uber’s driver support hubs to help drive up membership.

Under the landmark agreement, GMB and Uber will work together on a number of key topics including:

  • National earnings principles: Including Uber’s National Living Wage guarantee and holiday pay.
  • Pension: Including how to encourage drivers to enrol and contribute.
  • Discretionary benefits: Including free AXA insurance for sickness and injury, and Uber’s driver loyalty programme.
  • Health, safety and wellbeing: To ensure that drivers are safe when working on the app, including personal safety, road safety and driver well-being.
  • Account deactivations: GMB will play a role representing drivers if they lose access to the Uber app.
  • Representation: GMB and Uber leadership will meet quarterly to discuss driver issues and concerns.
  • Organising drivers: Uber has agreed access rights for GMB representatives at driver hubs to enable them to meet and support drivers.

Mick Rix, National Officer, 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, Regional General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Uber 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.

Earlier this year, Uber announced that 70,000 drivers in the UK will be treated as workers, earning at least the National Living Wage when driving with Uber (after accepting a trip request and after expenses). Drivers are paid for holiday time and those eligible will be automatically enrolled into a pension plan.

Drivers also continue to receive free insurance which covers sickness or injury, as well as parental payments, which has been in place for all drivers since 2018.

These changes mean that drivers now earn with greater security, helping them to plan for their futures. It followed the recent UK Supreme Court judgement, which provided a clearer path forward for the industry.

The GMB has existed for 132 years and represents over 620,000 workers across the economy.

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