UK trade union GMB has been recognised by global ridesharing service Uber. It marks the first time that the disruptive transport company has done so, making it an especially significant announcement given its history on apposing unions and reclassifying of its drivers.
While it is indeed a landmark decision, as The Guardian reports, there are some finer elements as to what this will mean going forward.
The recognition deal will see GMB gain access to drivers’ meeting hubs, for example, as a means to help or support them. Added to this will be the ability to represent drivers should they lose access to the Uber app, along with meeting quarterly with the company to discuss driver issues and concerns.
Drivers are also not automatically a part of the GMB union, with a sign up required, particularly when it comes to collective bargaining, should that take place.
While this is an important step for Uber drivers, those who are part of the delivery arm of the company Uber Eats, do not fall under the same newly announced agreement. The reason as to why has not been explained at the time of writing, but Uber Eats accounts for an estimated 30 000 couriers in the UK, which is a sizeable workforce.
With a recent decision being handed down to better manage driver working hours, as well as an appeal by Uber not to classify drivers as workers being rejected by the Supreme Court, it looks like those using the app as a source of income are making strides.
“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. 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,” added Mick Rix, GMB national officer.
Hopefully these developments bode well for other regions where Uber operates. We have already seen moves to reclassify drivers in California being quashed, and locally the fight continues between ridesharing companies and disgruntled drivers wanting a better working agreement.