GMB’s Steve Garelick has said that Uber “want to get away with as little cost” as possible as hundreds of “precarious workers” gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London ahead of Uber’s appeal hearing on Tuesday.
The ride-hailing company is attempting to appeal tribunal findings, which could mean its drivers in the UK are entitled to receive the national minimum wage and paid holiday.
Mr Garelick, the Gig Economy Regional Organiser for GMB Union, told talkRADIO’s Matthew Wright: “Two years ago we went to a tribunal and it took some time for the result to come through but the end result was they agreed with our assertion that workers’ rights should be granted in the case of individuals doing work for Uber.
“Uber then came back again and said ‘we don’t agree and we will appeal this’.
“Frankly like a small child that won’t take no for an answer, they have gone back to the Royal Courts of Justice now just to start the whole process again.”
- Read more: Opinion: By backing a second referendum, GMB show commitment to workers' rights where Labour have failed
He added: “What Uber want is to get away with as little cost to them and their shareholders as possible.
“With the on-going plan to eventually remove drivers and move to a completely automated system, where they don’t even have to pay for drivers.”
“You only have to look at what Addison Lee have to say about wanting to bring in fully automated vehicles by 2021.
“It is not me trying to sound alarmist, it is me being blunt. The longer Uber drag this out, the more likely they will have to part with a serious amount of money.
“They have to pay their way.”
'This is not socially acceptable'
Demonstrators join Uber drivers at a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice. Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Mr Garelick said the case against Uber intended to show that the gig economy “was not socially acceptable”.
“This speaks to workers that GMB are representing within the gig and precarious economy, who basically have very little in terms of rights,” he said.
“People try to better them over how they treat them or what to expect for them.
“In terms of the Uber case, the point was to show that this is not socially acceptable.
“The fact is we cannot continue to go on this gig economy with a gangmaster who chooses who is picked for work each day.
“’We will pay you a higher sum if you come out at this time and we’ll tie you on a string’.
“It is smokes and mirrors by these companies to claim that suddenly if they are held to the same account as a person in the high street to pay tax, VAT and National Insurance on behalf of their employees that they should rise above this.
“These people should be putting back into the economy as corporations and trying to claim that the ‘people we give work to are putting back into the economy’ is false.”