Uber strikes landmark deal with GMB union

26 May 2021, 22:26

A groundbreaking union recognition deal has been announced by ride-hailing giant Uber
A groundbreaking union recognition deal has been announced by ride-hailing giant Uber. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A groundbreaking union recognition deal has been announced by ride-hailing giant Uber, with predictions that it is the first step to a "fairer working life" for millions of people.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the GMB will represent drivers across the UK, saying they will have the right to choose if, when and where they drive.

The agreement follows changes made earlier this year guaranteeing drivers at least the national living wage, holiday pay and a pension plan.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court dismissed Uber's appeal against a landmark employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.

Under the agreement, the GMB said it will work with Uber on a number of issues, including pay, pensions, discretionary benefits, and safety.

GMB 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.

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"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."

Andy McDonald, shadow employment rights and protections secretary, said: "This recognition deal is testament to the dedicated work of the GMB union in fighting for better terms and conditions for workers, and Uber has set an example that companies across the gig economy should follow.

"This deal is good news for Uber drivers and shows the importance of trade unions in improving living standards, but there are still millions of workers in the gig economy who are without basic rights and protections, with no voice in the workplace who must not be abandoned by the Government.

"Following the Supreme Court ruling, the Government must change the law to ensure that all gig economy workers receive full employment rights."

The GMB said it will now be able to represent up to 70,000 Uber drivers across the UK.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This landmark agreement is a huge breakthrough and will give Uber drivers a real voice at work.

"The GMB deserve massive credit for their tireless campaigning, but this deal is just the start.

"Unions won't rest until platform companies across the gig economy agree to work with their staff on improving pay and conditions."