LONDON (Reuters) – Uber defended his business model at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday in the final stages of a long-standing battle over his drivers' self-employment status, a designation that entitles them to fewer jobs in the UK.
FILE PHOTO: Uber's logo will be displayed on a mobile phone in London, United Kingdom, September 14, 2018. REUTERS / Hannah Mckay / File Photo
The Silicon Valley-based company, which raised $ 120 billion on an initial public offering, faced protests, regulatory cuts and license losses around the world as it challenged existing competitors and expanded rapidly.
In 2016, two British drivers successfully argued before a tribunal that Uber had exercised significant control over them to provide on-demand taxi service and workers' rights, including the minimum wage, should be granted.
An appeal appeals court upheld this ruling last year, causing Uber to go to the appeals court.
Trade unions argue that the gig economy – where people often work for different companies at the same time without fixed contracts – is exploitative, while Uber says his drivers enjoy the flexibility and on average earn much more than the minimum wage.
It says its practices have been prevalent in the UK for decades through minicabs, private rental vehicles that can not be celebrated on the road like traditional black taxis.
"Many mini-taxi companies operate a business model in which motorists are self-employed, own their own car and carry the risk of their own costs," it says in a court document. But co-plaintiff in the case and chairman of the driver section of the British union The Independent Workers Union James Farrar criticized the company.
"It's been two years since we beaten Uber before the Employment Tribunal, but minicab riders across the UK are still waiting for justice while Uber takes endless appeals," he said before the hearing.
In the UK, the self-employed are only entitled to basic protection measures such as health and safety, but workers receive the minimum wage, paid leave and rest breaks. Uber has introduced a number of benefits to drivers in recent months.
The US company is involved in lawsuits around the world where courts have different approaches to workplace rights.
In many countries, the political agenda has been on the agenda as more people work for companies that do not have fixed hours or guaranteed income.
A march that was supported by several unions and involved cleaners, receptionists and security officials took place in central London last Tuesday.
The government launched a review of labor practices last year, but it still has to react after a consultation that concluded in the summer. According to a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, an answer is due.
Editing by Stephen Addison