Uber drivers win case – they are workers

Now they must organise to implement ruling

by Charlie Taylor, Derby Socialist Party

Uber drivers have finally won their rights case at the Supreme Court. Their union, GMB, describes it as “historic”.

The ruling determines that drivers are not ‘self-employed’, but are workers entitled to workers’ rights – including holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and breaks.

It went on to say that the drivers are workers from the moment they switch on their apps, and are available for work in their area, to the time they switch their apps off at the end of the day.

This means that Uber drivers are entitled to claim minimum wage – including back pay. These claims would be based upon their entire working day, not just when they had a rider in their cabs. They can also claim 5.6 weeks annual leave.

Leigh Day, the lawyers fighting the case on behalf of the GMB, says tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each in compensation. Uber has refused to accept this, and says only a small number of drivers are involved.

This is a welcome victory for Uber drivers who work under poor pay and conditions. One driver, who submitted a claim in 2018 against Uber for unpaid holidays, had been driving for Uber since 2016.

Since then, he hasn’t had a single paid holiday, despite at times working up to 70 hours in a seven-day week. When he took a couple of weeks off, on his doctor’s recommendation, to address (unsurprising) back pain, he wasn’t covered, so lost income for that period.

The ruling shows that organising wins. Gig economy workers must organise to ensure the Supreme Court decision applies to all.

The Socialist Party supports a fully funded, environmentally friendly and cheap public transport system, with trade union rates of pay and conditions for all.