Uber’s “landmark” decision to recognise the GMB union opens the door to others working in the gig economy in Scotland who wish to organise, an official has said.
The ride-hailing app’s decision to strike a collective bargaining agreement means the GMB will represent up to 70,000 drivers across the UK.
It follows a Supreme Court decision earlier this year, which dismissed Uber’s appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.
Uber has also recently agreed drivers should have at least the national living wage, holiday pay and a pension plan.
More than 1,000 of Uber’s drivers operated north of the border but the GMB said the decision would be significant for many others in the “gig economy”.
The union is planning a recruitment and organising drive as a result, in particular looking at those working for delivery companies.
GMB Scotland’s secretary Gary Smith said: “This is great news for over one thousand Uber drivers in Scotland, and tens of thousands more across the rest of the UK.
“These workers can now benefit from the collective strength of union representation and the stronger employment rights that go together with a union recognition agreement.
“It’s also a landmark moment for the gig economy.
“It shows that new and emerging industries can embrace trade unionism and that unions can organise within them.
“Ultimately, after a wretched year and a difficult decade, this agreement should give hope to workers that our post-Covid economic recovery can be built on fairer foundations.”
Announcing the “historic” agreement on Wednesday, Uber said it was the first in the industry to have a fully unionised workforce.
Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said: “Whilst Uber and GMB may not seem like obvious allies, we’ve always agreed that drivers must come first, and today we have struck this important deal to improve workers’ protections.
“Uber is the only major player in the industry to provide drivers with a national living wage guarantee, holiday pay and a pension, and this historic agreement means that Uber will be the first in the industry to ensure that its drivers also have full union representation.”
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