Uber drivers to get union recognition from GMB in breakthrough for workers in the gig economy

·2-min read
Uber and GMB union sign agreement (PA Wire)
Uber and GMB union sign agreement (PA Wire)

Uber drivers are to be given union recognition for the first time in a historic breakthrough for workers in the gig economy.

Up to 70,000 drivers across the UK will be able to choose to be represented by the GMB union following a “groundbreaking” agreement between the Silicon Valley tech giant and one of Britain’s most powerful bastions of organised labour.

It comes two months after the ride hailing app decided to classify its driver as “workers” rather than self employed contractors, a move that entitled them to benefits such as a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and a pension plan.

Drivers will not be forced to join the union, but GMB reps will be allowed to have a presence in Uber’s driver support hubs to help recruit members,

Areas that the GMB will get involved in include pay rates, benefits such as pensions, health and safety, representation of drivers who have access to the app taken away from them, and other driver concerns.

The GMB was founded in east London as the Gas Workers and General Labourers Union in 1889 by labour movement pioneer Will Thorne and Karl Marx’s daughter Eleanor.

Its 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.”

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.

“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.”

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