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19 December: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has defeated Uber at the Court of Appeal, in a landmark decision over the employment rights of its drivers.
The Court of Appeal today upheld the previous decisions by the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal, which ruled that Uber had unlawfully classified Uber drivers as independent contractors rather than workers, denying them basic rights such as a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay.
The IWGB is backing the two lead claimants Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar on the case. They are being represented by solicitors Paul Jennings and Rachel Mathieson from Bates Wells Braithwaite, and barristers Jason Galbraith-Marten QC and Sheryn Omeri. GMB is backing additional claimants, represented by solicitors from Leigh Day and barrister Tom Linden QC.
The decision will put further pressure on Uber to abide by UK employment law and start classifying its drivers as workers. It will also add pressure on the government to start to properly regulate employment law, something both have so-far failed to do.
Co-lead claimant and secretary of the IWGB's United Private Hire Drivers branch Yaseen Aslam said: “I'm delighted with today ruling, but frustrated that the process has dragged on for over three years. It cannot be left to precarious workers like us to bring companies like Uber to account and despite the personal price we have had to pay, we are the lucky ones. We know of many that are under such hardship, that it would be unimaginable for them to take a multi-billion pound company to court. It is now time for the government and the Mayor of London to act and stop letting companies like Uber take them for a ride.”
Co-lead claimant and chair of the IWGB's United Private Hire Drivers branch James Farrar said: "I am delighted today’s ruling brings us closer to the ending Uber’s abuse of precarious workers made possible by tactics of contract trickery, psychological manipulation and old-fashioned bullying. However, I am dismayed that implementation of worker status for drivers is further delayed while Uber seeks yet another appeal. This is nothing more than a cynical ploy to delay inevitable changes to its business model while it pursues a record breaking $120 billion stock market flotation. It’s time for Uber to come clean with all its stakeholders and abide by the decision of the courts."
IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “It is becoming increasingly ridiculous for so-called “gig economy” companies to argue that the law is unclear when they lose virtually every tribunal and court case. Companies like Uber continue to get away with depriving their workers of basic rights because the government does virtually nothing to enforce employment law and the Tories so-called reforms announced this week will do nothing to change that.”
The IWGB is the leading union for so-called “gig economy” workers. In November it organised the first UK nation-wide strike of Uber drivers, when drivers in London, Birmingham and Nottingham turned off their app in protest to unfair deactivations and low pay.
In July the union launched a campaign demanding the Mayor of London take action over the wholesale exploitation of minicab drivers by operators such as Uber and Addison Lee.
The IWGB has also taken legal action against other gig economy companies such as Deliveroo, CitySprint and Green Tomato Cars.
For more information:
Emiliano Mellino, press officer