Uber allows UK drivers to join unions for the first time

Uber has announced its is allowing its UK drivers to join one of the largest trade unions in the UK in a landmark agreement that could have major implications for its gig-economy workers.

Tens of thousands of Uber drivers will be represented by GMB Union which will give them collective bargaining powers.

The announcement comes after Uber suffered a defeat in its case with the UK Supreme Court, which deemed Uber’s drivers to be workers, therefore giving them the right to holiday pay, a statutory wage and pensions.

“You may think that Uber and the GMB don’t seem like obvious allies but we’ve always agreed that drivers must come first,” Uber’s regional general manager in Northern and Eastern Europe Jamie Heywood said to the Financial Times.

Uber has defiantly stuck by its gig-economy model and last year voters in California approved Proposition 22, exempting gig-economy companies from new employment regulations and solidifying drivers’ status as independent contractors.

READ MORE: Just Eat looking to tuck into rivals’ leftovers

However, under increasing pressures from regulators it is slowly changing its stance, with its couriers in Germany being employed by third party fleet management companies.

The company has even come under criticism for alleged workers’ rights abuses from its food delivery company rival Just Eat.

Jitse Groen, Just Eat’s chief executive called out Uber Eat’s Dara Khosrowshahi on twitter, telling him he should “Start paying taxes, minimum wage and social security premiums before giving a founder advice on how he should run his business.” in a spat on Twitter last month.

Just Eat became the first food delivery company to sign a deal with a workers union for its riders back in March.

“We wash the clothes of the couriers, we provide the bikes, social security, insurance, pensions, paid leave and all these things,” Groen said.

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