Taxi service Uber has struck a union recognition deal with the GMB union. It means that some 70,000 drivers can now choose to be represented by the union.
This comes after a Supreme Court ruling in February that Uber drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed.
National officer for GMB Mick Rix said, “This ground-breaking 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.”
GMB has said that Uber will now work with them on issues such as health and safety.
But the Financial Times newspaper said, “Uber will not engage in collective bargaining over earnings, including the implementation of the minimum wage. Uber will ‘consult in some areas, collectively bargain in others’ said Uber regional general manager Jamie Heywood.”
A collective bargaining agreement with the GMB is a positive step for workers.
But bosses often concede deals with one union to avoid pressure from other unions they see as more threatening.
Some unions are pointing out that much more must be done to protect the rights of those who work for the company.
The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) has been organising Uber drivers since 2015. It said there would be obstacles for ADCU to come to an agreement similar to the one the GMB has.
James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam from the union said, “At this time ADCU is not prepared to enter into a recognition agreement with Uber.
“This is because Uber continues to violate basic employment law such as the right to the minimum wage for all working time and holiday pay despite the recent Supreme Court ruling in our favour.”
ADCU also pointed out concerns about the motivations behind Uber’s move to enter into a collective bargaining agreement.
It said, “We are disturbed by Uber’s divisive and anti-union behaviour in the United States, most recently in California and New York State. Uber has used the appearance of blunt collective bargaining agreements to actually weaken the power of workers rather than the opposite.”
And chair of United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) Nader Awaad also voiced his concerns over the GMB deal. UPHD is a branch of the IWGB union.
“This recognition deal is a dud that signs away workers’ right to negotiate over pay and is a PR exercise for Uber,” Awaad explained.
These unions are right to be sceptical about the latest agreement between GMB and Uber.
There must be pressure from its newly unionised workers, and from other unions, to ensure the measures that Uber have promised are put in place.
And GMB must not be allowed to betray its members in upcoming battles with Uber bosses.
The fight for all those in Uber and similar jobs continues.