Update 27 May 2021:
Nader Awaad, Chair of United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD), a branch of the IWGB, says:
“This recognition deal is a dud that signs away workers’ right to negotiate over pay and is a PR exercise for Uber. Unions should not sign deals which tie their hands behind their backs. Trade union recognition agreements at their best are only useful when backed up by workers and unions who are willing to fight fiercely for their rights. UPHD is the biggest union for Uber drivers in the UK and has been doing just this for years, organising strikes and protests with thousands of drivers taking part, and we will continue to do so until Uber sits down and listens to the concerns of their drivers.”
“Celebrating a deal that signs away workers rights sadly says a lot about the state of the trade union movement in Britain today. This is precisely why grassroots worker-led unions like UPHD have grown to represent more drivers than any of the older, larger unions: workers need a fighting alternative and are willing and able to build it.”
26 May 2021:
Today newspapers have reported that Uber has signed a recognition agreement with the GMB trade union.
UPHD is pleased to see that Uber appears to be engaging with one of the several trade unions representing Uber drivers in the UK after years of refusing to listen to drivers whatsoever.
With UPHD the largest union for private hire drivers in the UK, and one whose members have been fighting tirelessly for better rights at Uber and other operators for many years through protests, strikes and grassroots campaigning, we look forward to Uber contacting us soon if they are serious about engaging with their drivers. While we wait for Uber to come to the table, we will keep on campaigning to make sure drivers’ voices are heard and to fight for our rights.
Furthermore, it is concerning to see reports that this recognition agreement will not allow for bargaining over earnings. Recognition agreements are only worth so much at best, but to take key areas of negotiation off the table before discussions have even started is appalling, particularly as Uber still fails to uphold the law on minimum wage after the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.
Until we see Uber meaningfully engage with drivers, we see these announcements as yet another PR stunt by Uber to try to give off the impression they are doing right by their drivers while continuing to exploit us and deny us what is rightfully ours.
What is trade union recognition?
Trade union recognition is an agreement between an employer and a trade union. Typically, at a bare minimum it requires the employer to meet with the union on a regular basis to discuss issues raised by the union’s members.
A voluntary recognition agreement can cover a range of different things, such as paid time off for union reps to use on union matters or agreements concerning conditions in the workplace. A voluntary union recognition agreement can be ended by the employer at their discretion.
Recognition agreements by themselves are useful for trade unions and our union has called on Uber to recognise UPHD. However, without the collective power of organised workers they can often be toothless, particularly as at times employers will choose to recognise unions with low membership density to try to disorganise workers and head off grassroots, worker-led unions.
If you want to get involved in fighting for rights at Uber and other operators, join UPHD: http://www.iwgb.org.uk/join