Loading...

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

CENTRE FOR THE TRANSFORMATIVE REGULATION OF WORK (CENTROW)

Uber must employ drivers and pay them according to collective bargaining agreement

Published: 13 September 2021

NOS (Dutch broadcasting service) 14 September 2021

Uber must employ drivers and pay them according to collective bargaining agreement

Taxi drivers who offer their services in the Netherlands via Uber are not self-employed entrepreneurs, but employees. The company must employ them and pay them according to the taxi collective bargaining agreement. That is what the District Court of Amsterdam decided today.

The trade union federation FNV filed the lawsuit because, according to the union, the definition used by the company is not good and most drivers earn less than the minimum wage. The FNV demanded that Uber change its policy and pay the drivers in accordance with the collective labour agreement for taxi transport.

Both sides had taken drivers to the lawsuit to support their points.

'Signal to The Hague'

Zakaria Boufangacha, vice-president of the FNV, is pleased with the judgment: "This judgment shows what we have been saying for years: Uber is an employer and the drivers are employees, so Uber must comply with the Collective Labour Agreement for Taxi Transport. It is also a signal to The Hague that these types of definitions are illegal and that the law must therefore be enforced."

Maurits Schönfeld, General Manager Northern Europe at Uber, is disappointed. "We know that the vast majority of drivers would like to continue working independently. Drivers do not want to relinquish the freedom to choose if, where and when and with whom they work. In the interest of drivers, we are therefore appealing against the court's ruling, while continuing to work on improving platform work in the Netherlands."

Lawsuits abroad

Previously, FNV conducted cases against meal delivery company Deliveroo and cleaning app Helpling. The cases against Deliveroo were won, the case against Helpling was largely lost.

Cases have also been brought against Uber in other European countries, including Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Belgium. In the UK, Uber has classified some 70,000 drivers as “workers” after a court ruling, entitling them to the minimum wage and holiday pay. The company points out that that classification [of “worker”] only exists in the United Kingdom.

CENTROW comments: The statement by Uber’s General Manager Northern Europe is misleading. Being classified as “employees” instead of “independent contractors” in no way require drivers “to relinquish the freedom to choose if, where and when and with whom they work”. Working conditions are set out in the contract of employment, and many employees who work flexitime have such freedom written into their contracts. Drivers will only have to “relinquish” their flexibility if Uber refuses to allow it to continue. The judgment requires no reduction of the drivers’ existing rights but entitles them to additional rights such as minimum wages, paid leave and maternity leave. Uber’s appeal against the judgment is not “in the interest of drivers” but directly against their interest. The clear purpose is to avoid the cost of the additional rights to which employees are entitled.