Union urges Uber to end court fight over drivers’ rights and enter talks
A union has urged Uber to end a four-year legal fight over whether drivers should be classed as workers or independent third-party contractors, and enter discussions.
The GMB called for talks hours ahead of a Supreme Court hearing.
Uber operating companies have appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three rounds of a fight with drivers.
Seven justices are preparing to oversee a virtual, two-day Supreme Court hearing.
Uber rides are booked through a smartphone app, which connects passengers to drivers.
Drivers say they are “workers” entitled to the minimum wage, paid leave and other legal protections.
Uber companies say drivers are “independent, third party contractors”, not workers.
An employment tribunal ruled in 2016 that Uber drivers are workers, entitled to workers’ rights.
That ruling was upheld by an employment appeal tribunal, and by Court of Appeal judges.
GMB legal director Susan Harris said Uber should end the fight.
“Despite repeatedly losing the argument, Uber persists in using the legal system to avoid its responsibilities to our members,” she said.
“GMB calls on Uber to recognise this is the end of the legal road, to abandon their legal challenge and sit down with GMB, the union for Uber drivers, to discuss the way forward.”
Supreme Court justices have been asked to decide whether drivers are “workers” and, if they are, what periods constitute their “working time”.
They are not expected to deliver a ruling until later in the year.
A law firm, enlisted by GMB to represent Uber drivers, says drivers will be entitled to compensation for lost pay if Uber loses in the Supreme Court.
Leigh Day thinks tens of thousands of Uber drivers could be entitled to an average of £12,000 each.
Lawyer Nigel Mackay said: “Uber is soon going to reach the end of the road in its fight to stop its drivers being given workers’ rights.
“If Uber loses, it will have no other option but to compensate those drivers who have brought claims for failures to provide holiday pay and where the company has paid them below the minimum wage.”
A Leigh Day spokeswoman said if Uber loses the Supreme Court fight, the case will return to an employment tribunal, for decisions to be made on how much compensation drivers should get.