By Councillor Martin Kerin
FOLLOWING on from the recent landmark Supreme Court ruling that ended Uber’s claim that its workers are self-employed, this week saw the first practical step towards the dismantling of ‘bogus self-employment’. This is the beginning of the end of the ‘gig economy’ and the ensuing inequality and insecurity which stems from it. Uber’s workers will now receive the National Living Wage, holiday pay and be enrolled in a pension scheme.
Genuine self-employment is both a dignified and fulfilling way to work, whereas bogus self-employment is equally undignified and unfulfilling. Going forward, this is the tumbling of the first domino in the gig economy and a warning shot to other companies who make a profit out of exploiting and mistreating their workers. Companies who tarnish the name and reputation of genuine self-employment have been put on notice.
With any landmark deal, the devil is in the detail, and there is troubling small print with this week’s news. This is, namely, the fact that Uber is only committing to these new entitlements from the time a trip is accepted to the drop-off. However, David has already beaten Goliath once, and will again. The important thing is that the principle has been won, and the small print will eventually follow.
The major lesson from the years of fighting and campaigning around bogus self-employment is that there is positive power in a Trade Union. The action of the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) in this particular case and the continued backing of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the wider Union movement has made all of this possible. As Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB Union, said: “This is the end of the road for bogus self-employment.”
There is power in a Union. With Trade Union membership, David really can beat Goliath.