“Uber is an employer” says SECO
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has confirmed the position taken by UNI Global Union Swiss affiliate Unia: the collaboration of two Geneva-based companies with Uber is considered a business structure providing a transport service for hire. As a result, Uber must be considered as an employer with all the attendant obligations.
In December 2017, close to 30 Uber drivers went on strike in Geneva. Uber “partner companies” offered drivers appalling conditions of employment, but at the same time the drivers worked exclusively for the US transport company. Workers came out on strike in order to protest their unacceptably low wages (sometimes as low as 10 francs an hour) and the fact that their employers did not pay any social security contributions.
Respecting the collective agreement
SECO has now declared that this partnership involved staff being hired out in order to provide a service. The collective agreement that is currently in force in the sector is therefore applicable. The drivers took their case to court and are impatient for the minimum salary guaranteed in the collective agreement for the hiring out of services to be granted to them.
Employers have obligations
According to SECO’s detailed statement, Uber has to be regarded as an employer. Unia therefore calls upon the Federal and cantonal authorities to put an end to the company’s illegal actions. As long as the company refuses to recognise the workers as its employees, it should not be allowed to offer its services in Switzerland.
The Geneva authorities in particular must ensure that article 36 of the cantonal law on taxis is respected, and should withdraw the license it had granted Uber until the company pays its staff the standard wage as well as the compulsory social security contributions.