Exploitation of workers must stop

Exploitation of workers must stop

Professor Kurt Pärli of the University of Basel issues report that proves Uber are in fact employers and must treat workers as employees. The net is tightening

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings told Swiss radio that digital work platforms such as Uber are exploiting vulnerable workers.

Uber, now the world’s largest taxi company, despite not owning a single car, refuses to recognise its drivers as employees to avoid providing benefits such as social security contributions. However, a new study commissioned by UNI’s Swiss affiliate UNIA concluded that because Uber drivers must adhere to numerous instructions, rules and regulations direct from the company, they should be regarded as employees.

There needs to be more urgency in the policy response

Philip Jennings, UNI

Stop Uberisation

“With this ‘uberisation” of the world of work, employees are effectively on call or on zero hour contracts and they are unable to live on their salaries,” Jennings told RTS.

“We have to face the reality - the research that has been undertaken by Oxford University, the World Economic Forum, the OECD and others all points to a bleak future of employment which cuts across many sectors. This poses policy questions at all levels and there needs to be more urgency in the policy response.”

Digital Capitalism

“I have said on a number of occasions that we have a new form of digital capitalism driven by financial market demands. This leads to Uber type behaviour where companies try to cut regulatory and legislative corners to make a return.”

“Workers are vulnerable and some employers, like Uber and others, are ready to exploit their precarious situations.”

Put people first!

Philip Jennings, UNI

“Why can’t we start by putting people first? How can Uber operate when they don’t even respect the law? Our colleagues at UNIA are right to oppose them,” he added.

The study, by Professor Kurt Pärli of the University of Basel, is one of the first papers published on the legal ramifications of the digital economy and new world of work in Switzerland. It concluded that Uber should not be absolved of its obligations as an employer. Legally, if an employer-employee relationship exists, the company must provide some form of social security and terms and conditions.

“We live in a period of transformation, and we are not prepared. We need to prepare for the digitalisation of the world of work and all the challenges it will bring,” Jennings said.

UNIA have called on the authorities to make sure that Uber respects Swiss labour laws.

To listen to the full interview, please click here.