GMB leader and Uber boss to discuss next step on workers’ rights

The new leader of one of the UK’s biggest trade unions is to meet a boss of Uber to take forward a groundbreaking deal on workers’ rights.

Gary Smith, the general secretary of the GMB, said he wanted to end the “exploitation” of more than 200,000 drivers in the industry.

Thursday’s meeting with Uber’s Jamie Heywood follows a trade union recognition deal struck in May under which Uber will formally recognise the GMB to represent up to 70,000 of its drivers across the UK.

This year the supreme court determined that Uber drivers were not self-employed, but were workers entitled to rights including holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and an entitlement to breaks.

Smith said: “The groundbreaking deal between GMB and Uber was the first step towards a fairer working life for millions of people. It showed that, when companies and trade unions work together, standards can be raised across these industries.

“Earlier this year the supreme court set a precedent for all ride-hailing apps to provide drivers with worker rights such as holiday pay and a pension. Uber has done this for its 70,000 drivers, but there are more than 200,000 more working for other operators still denied these basic legal rights.

“GMB and Uber today take the next step in our commitment to ending the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of ride-hailing app drivers.”

Heywood, the regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Uber, said: “The historic agreement with GMB ensured that Uber was the first in the industry to ensure all of its drivers have full union representation, as well as a pension and holiday pay.

“We may not seem like obvious allies, but together we made history by striking a recognition agreement to improve workers’ protections and, crucially, give drivers a stronger say in how Uber operates.

“We hope that working constructively with GMB will show the rest of the industry what can be achieved, ensuring that all drivers, no matter who they work with, receive the rights and protections they are entitled to.”

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