Thursday, December 20, 2018

Third Uber Court Loss Has Ramifications for Road Haulage and Logistics Companies

Self-Employed and Casual Workers are a Traditional Feature in the Supply Chain
Shipping News Feature
UK – The recent spate of victories for the drivers represented by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and the GMB Union in their continuing battle with employer Uber to be recognised as employees, rather than self-employed, has ramifications for some road haulage and logistics operations. The GMB Union is hailing the latest in a 'hat trick' of wins when senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London dismissed the passenger carrying 'hail and ride' outfits plea that the contracts in place were a legal construct.

Uber had previously refused to accept the judgement of the Court in 2016 when workers pled their case. Uber referred to an Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2017 which again rejected the company’s claims. By the time this last case arrived before the Court in October over 80 drivers were claiming employee’s rights. Now the unions are saying that the time has come for Uber to accept the judgement of the Courts. Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“We’re now at a hat trick of judgements against Uber, they keep appealing and keep losing. Uber should just accept the verdict and stop trying to find loopholes that deprive people of their hard won rights and hard earned pay. This is the perfect early Christmas present for GMB's Uber members, but this case is about the wider ‘gig economy’ too. Employers are on notice that they can’t just run rough shod over working people to put more on the bottom line for shareholders.”

Eighty two drivers were represented by London based legal outfit Leigh Day and Nigel Mackay, partner in the company’s employment team, said following the latest victory:

“We are very pleased that the Court of Appeal has again upheld the Employment Tribunal’s findings that Uber drivers are workers of Uber. This is the third time that the drivers have been victorious in their fight for workers’ rights but Uber has yet to give their drivers what three legal decisions have ruled they are entitled to, holiday pay and to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. We hope that Uber now faces up to its responsibilities instead of spending time and money in the courts attempting to deny its drivers these rights.”

The case has been closely followed by politicians of all hues with the Labour party frequently criticising the ‘gig’ economy and saying it would bring in measures to stop devices such as zero hours contracts as well as those similar to the Uber scenario. This would likely affect the supply chain groups which rely on flexible employment to manage the peaks and troughs of a seasonal and ever changing business.

Casual drivers and warehouse staff have long been a feature of the industry and, as the pool of workers diminishes whilst the shortage of workers grows many companies are unhappy with the level of competence and the unreliability of staff hired via agencies. Labour MP Frank Field said after the latest Court decision:

"This is another stunning victory for workers against the exploitation and poverty wages that stem from bogus self-employment in the gig economy. The government’s job now is to ensure justice is delivered for workers all year round, not just at Christmas."

Photo: The jubilant IWGB team pictured outside the Court yesterday.