Our partnership proves there’s a bright future for fair flexible work

·3-min read
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Since Uber launched in the UK nine years ago, GMB has been its most vocal critic. GMB has been dedicated to campaigning for greater protections in the gig economy and driver representation within the company. Meanwhile, Uber has defended flexibility and the right of drivers to choose if, when and where they drive.

GMB was formed in March 1889 in East London by one of the greatest pioneers of the Labour movement, Will Thorne, and the daughter of Karl Marx, Eleanor. With over 620,000 members across the economy and over tens of thousands of reps, GMB has a proud history of standing up for their members.

Uber was founded in California in 2009 with the purpose of providing a safe and affordable ride at the touch of a button. In the UK today, 70,000 drivers use the Uber app to access flexible work opportunities, and 5 million people regularly use the Uber app to get around.

For a long time it felt as if Uber and GMB may never find any common ground. But we both recognise that drivers must come first and it is their voice that matters most.

That’s why we have struck an industry-first deal that gives drivers the best of both worlds and an even stronger voice. This landmark agreement will help protect drivers’ freedom to choose where, when and how they work.

From today, GMB will be officially recognised as the only trade union for Uber drivers in the UK. This groundbreaking recognition deal will enable GMB to support their members on a wide-range of topics, including earnings principles around Uber’s National Living Wage guarantee and holiday pay. GMB will work with Uber as it establishes its first ever pension scheme for drivers. They will also ensure drivers are safe and their wellbeing is protected.

This builds on the recent changes that gave Uber drivers greater security. Drivers who use the Uber app in the UK are now treated as workers, a unique classification under UK law. This ensures every driver earns at least the National Living Wage for the time they are working on the app, although they can and do earn more. They are also entitled to holiday pay and all those eligible will be enrolled into a pension plan. Only when driving with Uber do drivers have these protections, and never when driving with other operators.

But with this joint agreement we are going even further. Workers have a right to make their voices heard, and true worker representation allows platforms to understand the concerns of those who choose flexible work, and makes platforms accountable for addressing them.

So, to the thousands of UK drivers who use the Uber platform to earn, we will support you signing up to GMB. And by doing this, you will help to raise the standard for workers across the whole private hire sector in the UK.

But alone, it is not enough. Uber is not the only player in town. Drivers across the country use multiple platforms to earn money, often all at the same time. It makes no sense that they should have the protections of worker status on one trip but lose them on the next.

The whole private hire industry must now stand up and be counted. All drivers, no matter who they work with, should receive the protections that they deserve.

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