IIn 2018, Ali filed a claim against Uber for unpaid vacations. Originally from Somaliland, he had been driving for Uber since 2016, a couple of years after arriving in the UK. Since then, he hadn’t had a single paid holiday, even though he sometimes worked up to 70 hours in a seven-day week. However, she had taken some time off, once for a couple of weeks on the doctor’s recommendation to treat her back pain (not surprising). When he tried to get help from the Insurance policy provided by Uber the company likes to show off, they told him that time off would not be covered.
Despite a labor court ruling in 2016 that Uber drivers were entitled to basic protections like minimum wage and paid vacations, Ali’s claim has been on hold while Uber continued to appeal the decision. Through the years of appeals, Uber denied these protections to its drivers. On Friday, however, six supreme court judges gave the final decision on Uber’s main case and, like the three rulings that came before, held that Uber drivers have basic worker rights.
It has not been an easy ride for Uber; the contractual arguments he urged to the courts and tribunals were rejected wholesale, sometimes with contempt. The legal case for Uber, at its most basic, is that the company is a “platform” that connects passengers and drivers. You earn your money not by transporting passengers, but by charging drivers, whom you call your “customers,” a fee to act as an agent for the drivers and generate business opportunities (passenger trips) for them. However, when the labor court first ruled in this case, it stated: “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is, in our opinion, slightly ridiculous.”
the court of appeal referred “The high degree of fiction in the drafting” of Uber’s contractual documents, as well as “the air of artifice and artificiality that permeates the Uber case.” The supreme court also rejected Uber’s contracts for showing that drivers did not have basic workers’ rights. pointing out that: “Laws such as the National Minimum Wage Law were manifestly enacted to protect those who parliament considers to be in need of protection and not just those designated by their employer as eligible for it.”
In practice, however, successive conservative governments have largely left it to employers to decide which workers should qualify for labor rights. Few rights of workers are enforced by a state body, leaving enforcement to the courts and tribunals after individual workers or unions file claims. But even that was a great threat to the business interests of the Conservatives; the coalition government cracked down on this by removing people’s rights to file lawsuits in court for violations of health and safety statutes, part of David Cameron’s attempt to “end the culture of health and safety forever,” and introduced court fees, leading to a massive reduction in claims.
The rates were later shot down by the supreme court; the court stated that without unlimited access to the courts, “laws can become a dead letter, the work done by parliament can become null and void and the democratic election of members of parliament can become a pointless sham.”
But beyond the government’s attempts to stop individual workers from asserting their rights, the few state agencies or departments that are mandated to enforce the law at work often do a lousy job. David Metcalf, former Director of Labor Market Enforcement, he pointed that companies could expect a minimum wage inspection once every 500 years, and that around £ 1.8 billion in holidays went unpaid each year. To his credit, he made a number of suggestions on how to approach this, the most helpful of which were rejected by the Theresa May administration. Failing to make significant progress, Low after less than three years.
Metcalf was succeeded by Matthew Taylor, whose 2017 Taylor Review, which made a series of recommendations to the government on how to tackle precarious employment, was largely rejected by unions for not going far enough. In particular, he had almost nothing to say about the role of enforcement in protecting workers’ rights. But even Taylor has proven to be a great challenge to this government; His term has not been extended, even though he offered to remain unpaid until a replacement was found, leaving the position vacant for several months. “Everything is incompetent, irresponsible and suggests a disregard for vulnerable workers,” Taylor tweeted about the debacle.
Not even a pandemic that kills thousands of people is enough to force a rethinking of approach: Despite there being more than 3,500 coronavirus outbreaks in the workplace, the Health and Safety Executive has not shut down or prosecuted a single employer, preferring “direct persuasion” methods. advice and reprimand ”.
The government’s complete disinterest in enforcing the law is certainly not lost on Uber. Indeed, in response to the ruling, Uber has already tried to downplay its importance, saying it only “targeted a small number of drivers”, leaving open the possibility that it was not relevant to its thousands of current drivers as several Changes have since been made to the app. Going down this path would be a slap in the face for Ali, who hoped that the Supreme Court ruling would mean that he finally has rights. It would be “very good news if we got our rights from 2016,” he tells me. “I hope we have them now.”
With the decision of the Supreme Court, Uber reached the end of the trip and it is too late to cancel it. Now is the time for the government to make them pay. Ali and tens of thousands of his co-workers are waiting.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism