UNI welcome European Court of Justice ruling that Uber is a transport company
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that ride-hailing firm Uber is officially a transport company and not a digital service.
The company argued it was an information society service – helping people to interact via the platform - and not a taxi company.
The recalcitrant Uber said that the ruling would have little impact on the way it operates in Europe, but experts hold that this was a stinging blow to the company and could have implications for the wider gig economy.
“This is a clear message to the platform world that they do have a social responsibility,” said UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings. “We cannot let workers fall through the trapdoor of willful misclassification of employees as ‘self- employed’. We need a people centred approach that ensures that basic rights are enshrined, and social protections are in place.”
At an ILO panel on the Sharing Economy an interview took place between UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings and Amit Singh, Global Lead for Work Policy and Research at Uber. Jennings observed that Uber should get on with addressing the increasing demands that their employees should have the right to join a union in the platform economy, minimum wages and that they had a social responsibility towards their drivers.
Uber is facing legal claims worldwide and the time has come to change its labour law breaking ways, said the UNI GS.
“This ruling confirms that Uber does not simply exist ‘on the cloud’ but is well-established with its wheels firmly on the road,” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Thiébaut Weber. “The company must now recognise and comply with national transport regulations within each EU Member State. This means also respecting the rights of its workers across Europe.”
For transport workers, this has been a great week – as well as the Uber ruling, airline giant Ryanair agreed to “change its longstanding policy of not recognising unions”.
In a statement, the European Transport Workers’ Federation said, “This is great news for customers and for workers. Yes to innovation, no to social dumping.”
In its ruling, the ECJ said that by EU law, a service whose purpose was "to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys" must be classified as "a service in the field of transport".
In addition, the ECJ stated that, "As EU law currently stands, it is for the member states to regulate the conditions under which such services are to be provided in conformity with the general rules of the treaty on the functioning of the EU."