The labour union FNV won a court case on September 13 which forces Uber to employ its drivers, but freelancing drivers themselves are sceptical. While they hope the case will lead to better payment, they are not sure how the flexible work through the app will be combined with an employment contract. The decades-old labour laws on which the case was based seem to mismatch with the modern reality of flexible labour.
While Uber goes into higher appeal, it will have to start employing its drivers immediately. This will mean better legal protection and continued payment when a driver is ill or is waiting on customers, FNV spokesman Casper Schrijver sums up.
Uber driver Samir, who prefers his last name to not be printed, looks more at the practicalities. As every driver invested in their car, insurance and license, he’s not sure how that will work out with official employment.
“But there’s no Uber driver who’s happy with the fees that Uber pays. If this ruling can change anything about that, it would be a solution,” the driver says. On the other hand, he would not want to give up the flexibility he has with Uber now.
Samir’s hesitance to state a strong opinion could stand for the Uber driver community as a whole. Both the labour union and Uber brought drivers to court to plead their case. Following the court ruling, Uber released a press release stating that most drivers appreciate their flexibility, and it will go into higher appeal “for the sake of our drivers.”
The case reaches further than individual drivers’ preferences, according to the union spokesman Schrijvers. “It is also about the broader principle. During all those years, Uber did not pay any social security premiums. Now they will, and that’s better for the society as a whole.”
For the drivers, that is not their first concern. Samir used to work for a traditional taxi company, but changed to Uber because he could combine it with private jobs for clients in his own network. Uber provided him with the flexibility to do that, but it pays him significantly less than the taxi company. Drivers like Samir are thus forced to choose between two ways of working, which are both not ideal.
FNV admits that it is high time for labour laws to be updated, and it will, therefore, also lobby in The Hague for this. But Schrijvers points out that as of now, labour constructions like Uber’s are simply forbidden, and last Monday’s case proved this.
For Samir, it is not that simple. He received a message from Uber that they will come with more information for the drivers later this week, but at this point, he has no idea what the future of being an Uber driver will look like.
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