Uber goes to court to defend the business model on workers' rights in the UK

LONDON (Reuters) – Uber will face a British court on Tuesday to defend his business model of treating drivers as self-employed, leaving him little right in the final stages of a protracted battle in the taxi app.

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 could be valued at $ 120 billion in an upcoming IPO, faced legal action, protests, regulations and license losses worldwide as it challenged and rapidly expanded its existing competitors.

In 2016, two British drivers successfully argued before a court that Uber exercised significant control over them in order to provide a taxi service on call and that they should be granted workers' rights, including the receipt of the minimum wage.

An appellate appeal court upheld this decision last year, causing Uber to appear before the appeals court. On Tuesday, a two-day hearing is scheduled.

Trade unions argue that the gig economy – where people often work without fixed contracts for different employers – is exploitative, while Uber says his drivers enjoy the conditions of their work and earn on average much more than the minimum wage.

"We will do everything we can to maintain this flexibility and to preserve this power for our driver partners, because every single one I have spoken to says they absolutely value it," said CEO Dara Khosrowshi in London last week.

In the UK, the self-employed are only entitled to basic protection measures such as health and safety, but workers receive benefits such as minimum wages, paid holidays and rest breaks. Uber has introduced a number of benefits for the drivers.

Case-related and United Kingdom Workers Union driver James Farrar criticized the taxi app for continuing to oppose the original court ruling.

"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.

Rights at companies such as Uber, Addison Lee Taxi Service and food supplier Deliveroo have been on the political agenda in the UK as more people work for companies that have no fixed hours or guaranteed income.

A march that is supported by several unions and includes cleaners, receptionists and security officers will take place on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May has started a review of working practices, but her administration still has not responded after a consultation that was finalized in the summer.

The government will respond "in due course", said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Editing by Stephen Addison

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