As an Uber driver I’m sick and tired of losing out
I’m an Uber driver, so I was really happy to see Friday’s employment tribunal verdict against my employer. My union, GMB, won a pivotal case against Uber, proving that their drivers are employed, not self-employed “partners” as the company always says.
Our win is about keeping hold of the rights and the working requirements that, in this country, we have achieved after fighting for more than a hundred years.
Workers on the ground have made Uber and because of them it has made an enormous amount of profit. The company should also accept their responsibility towards workers and the country that they are operating in by providing the bare minimum of employment rights for their workers.
Uber has long claimed that drivers like me are self-employed and should be treated like business owners – responsible for their own income, outgoings and everything else about being a driver. Now we know for a fact that this is not the case.
How can I be self-employed when I don’t control the details with the customers? I’m not getting the money for them and don’t even know their destination.
When I’m working, I open the app, Uber controls the app and they dictate to me where to go. Things are not at my discretion, it is controlled by them and the customers pay Uber and they pay me.
In reality Uber control just about everything I do when working for them: They decide where I go, how much I can charge and which jobs I get. And yet this company does not take any responsibility for my employment.
Up till now, Uber drivers have not been guaranteed a minimum wage – and as GMB, has shown, not every driver always makes the legal minimum. We’re also not entitled to holiday pay and as a result, any time off means a loss of earnings, which can mean a lot when you have bills to pay.
When Uber comes in and takes advantage of all the opportunities they have in Britain, they should also respect the law of the land and we have shown that today.
This kind of work needs a human presence and we know that the public like the service we provide, but they want to know what the drivers are feeling and if we are happy.
This case is not just about the drivers, it is about all of the workers in this country that these companies wish to exploit using new smart phones and apps as an excuse. This is only the first step in stopping exploitation in the gig economy but it is a happy day for Uber drivers who are sick and tired of losing out on basic rights at work.