GMB Supports Test Cases Against Uber

File illustration picture showing the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt court earlier this month instituted a temporary injunction against Uber from offering car-sharing services across Germany. San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

Two test cases have been brought against taxi-app platform Uber at the Central London Employment Tribunal, in order to determine whether drivers are entitled to employment rights such as holiday pay and a guaranteed minimum wage.

The action is supported by the GMB and seeks to establish whether Uber drivers should be classified as workers or as self-employed.

As workers, the drivers would be entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage and would also be able to holiday pay etc.

Lawyers representing the drivers also claim that Uber has frequently deducted sums from drivers’ pay without informing the individual in advance.

This is the first time that Uber has faced legal action of this kind in the UK although cases have been brought in the US with mixed results.

The results the hearing are expected to have an impact on a further 17 claims that have been brought against the organisation.

Jo Bertram, regional general manager at Uber UK, said: “More than 30,000 people in London drive with our app and this case only involves a very small number. The main reason people choose to partner with Uber is so they can become their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly.

“Many partner-drivers have left other lines of work and chosen to partner with Uber for this very reason. In fact, two-thirds of new partner-drivers joining the Uber platform have been referred by another partner.”

Annie Powell, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day who is representing the drivers, said: “Uber currently denies that its drivers are entitled to the most basic of workers’ rights. Uber’s defence is that it is just a technology [organisation], not a taxi [organisation], and that Uber drivers do not work for Uber but instead work for themselves as self-employed business men and women.

“On behalf of our clients, we will claim that Uber is wrongly classifying its drivers as self-employed with the result that drivers are denied the rights and protections that Parliament intended them to have.”

Sean Nesbitt, partner in the employment team at law firm Taylor Wessing, said: “This is the case of the year in UK employment law for three reasons. First, Uber is battling a wave of litigation around the world. A US class action settlement worth between US$84-US$100million is having trouble getting judicial approval, with criticism that it is too cheap a price. The UK case will further fuel litigation in other industries, and other countries. It will be followed in the UK by cases involving cycle couriers and Pimlico Plumbers.

“Second, unlike the US and many other countries, the UK has a third way between costly employee status and low-rights self-employment status. This “worker” label is valuable because it gives some basic protections on working time and pay, and includes the right to litigate, which Uber tries to avoid with arbitration clauses.

“Third, it highlights the growing opportunities for unions to regroup and reverse years of decline, by organising among the fragmented “gig economy” workforce. The case is supported by the GMB just as the couriers are supported by a union. Uber does not recognise unions in the US, and the planned settlement there involves a concession to work with a lesser drivers’ association.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

Tollpuddle Rallies For Union Rights

Adrian Weir speaking at the CTUF- IER Rally at Tolpuddle

Adrian Weir speaking at the CTUF- IER Rally at Tolpuddle

The annual Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival kicked off in a militant mood with a packed rally on trade union rights jointly organised by the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom and the Institute of Employment Rights.

First to speak was CTUF Assistant Secretary, Adrian Weir, who argued that Brexit would make no real difference to the impact of TTIP because the trade treaty between the EU and US was just one part of a global network of deregulatory free trade treaties.

Adrian argued that if TTIP becomes void for Britain, international capital had an almost finalised treaty with Canada, CETA, and a proposed plurinational treaty on services, TiSA, to use with its push for the deregulation of labour rights, health and safety and environmental standards and the irreversible privatisation of public services.

Prison officers’ union general secretary, Steve Gillan, strongly made the point that there were precious few trade union rights in Britain and even fewer for his members in the prison service.

Steve said he felt sure that a future Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn would restore union rights to prison staff and reverse the privatisation of prisons.

Next up was Unison South West regional secretary, Joanne Kaye, who spoke passionately about rights for women workers. Joanne also painted a vivid picture of how low paid workers were being priced out of justice and could no longer use Employment Tribunals because of the fees introduced by the Tories when in a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.

Professor Keith Ewing, president of both CTUF and the IER, introduced the Institute’s newly published ‘Manifesto For Labour Law: towards a comprehensive revision of workers’ rights’. Professor Ewing argued that three essential reforms were needed in Britain: firstly, the reestablishment of a Ministry of Labour and secondly, the introduction of sectoral collective bargaining to ensure that all workers and not just employees were covered by collective agreements.

The third and most important point, was the establishment of an unequivocal right to strike.

PCS union leader, Mark Serwotka, closed the rally with wide ranging and well received speech taking in attacks on worker and union rights in the Civil Service to support for Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader.

Mark said that he had personally re-joined Labour after many years absence and he encouraged all Festival goers to join if they were not already members.

The rally was sponsored by Unite South West and chaired by Regional Secretary, Peter Hughes. The meeting started with a message of support from the Morning Star brought from London to Tolpuddle by Tolpuddle Time Trail cyclist, Les Doherty.

Keith Ewing, Jeremy Corbyn, the late Davey Hopper, Carolyn Jones, John Hendy QC

Keith Ewing, Jeremy Corbyn, the late Davey Hopper, Carolyn Jones, John Hendy QC

The Eve of Gala Rally at the Durham Miners held by CTUF and IER on July 8th proved to be another important date in the trade union calender attracting a packed meeting to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak along with John Hendy QC, Professor Keith Ewing, Carolyn Jones of the IER and the late Davey Hopper of the Durham Miners.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, International Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

Vicious Union-Busting At Australian Brewer

AMWU & ETC Pickets At Carlton Breweries

AMWU & ETC Pickets At Carlton Breweries

Carlton United Breweries, who manufacture most of Australia’s most popular beers, has sacked 54 union machine maintenance workers at its Melbourne brewery ahead of the impending merger between Carlton United’s parent company SABMiller and AB InBev.

The workers, members the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Electrical Trade Union (ETU), were told their jobs would be contracted out but they could return to work as employees of the subcontractor – with a 65% pay cut!

The unions are contesting the dismissals and demanding reinstatement and respect for existing agreements, with the support of the production workers at the plant represented by the United Voice union.

AMWU Assistant State Secretary Craig Kelly denounced the dismissals as ‘calculated union-busting’, planned in advance as the company stockpiled supplies to pubs and big retailers. Prior to the dismissals, the company was working the maintenance crews over 60 hours per week but refused to hire new workers.

As AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, moves to clear the remaining regulatory obstacles to its USD 108 billion acquisition of rival brewer SABMiller, workers are already feeling the notorious cost-cutting which drives AB InBev owners 3G Capital.

3G built a Brazilian brewery company into a global giant through continuous cost-cutting and aggressive acquisitions.

Now 3G threatens to extend its destructive model – the mere prospect of a 3G acquisition generates job cuts.

Click here to show your support for Aussie brewery workers.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, International Employment Rights | Leave a comment

Durham Miners: Jeremy Corbyn To Speak At CTUF Rally


Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Manifesto For Labour Law

Manifesto front page.img_assist_customBy Keith Ewing, John Hendy and Carolyn Jones

The world of work has changed and with it the nature and role of the workforce. For Britain’s 31 million workers, many of the changes have had a devastating impact on their working lives and their living standards. Britain’s workers are among the most insecure, unhappy and stressed workers in Europe.

A prime factor in moulding this situation is a framework of law recognised as “the most restrictive in the Western world.”

It is a framework of law born out of 19th-century conditions, which has bypassed many advances of the 20th century, which ignores today’s economic and workplace realities and which is not fit for purpose in 21st-century Britain.

It is time for the law to change. Jeremy Corbyn has signalled his intention to review Britain’s framework of labour law, launching Workplace 2020 with Ian Lavery earlier this year.

In an effort to assist that review, the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) has drawn up a detailed contribution — A Manifesto for Labour Law: Towards a Comprehensive Revision of Workers’ Rights.

This manifesto represents an IER contribution to a long overdue debate on the future of labour law. It offers 25 major policy proposals drawn up by an impressive list of 15 of Britain’s law experts.

We believe this manifesto shows how the law can be used to create fair, just, secure, democratic and productive conditions of work which will diminish inequality and benefit the economy.

At the heart of our proposals is the need to ensure the voice of Britain’s 31 million workers is heard and respected: in government (via a ministry of labour), in the economy (via a national economic forum), and in industry (via sectoral employment commissions).

The role of employers in building a vibrant economy is acknowledged, but the concept of management’s unrestricted “right to manage” is rejected as undemocratic, unproductive and undesirable.

Instead, our manifesto uses as its model the experience of those economies, including post-war Britain, with extensive sectoral collective bargaining structures underpinned by strong trade union rights.

The benefits are threefold: collective bargaining helps to counter the unequal power of the employer; helps to reduce inequality in wealth and health; and helps to promote a stable and productive economy.

While the manifesto aims to shift the weight of regulation from legislation to collective agreements, that does not mean there will be no role for legislation.

So our manifesto sets out the role legislation will play in underpinning the collective bargaining process and protecting workers’ rights.

Consideration is given to ways to improve wages and working time, equality at work, pay equity and health and safety issues.

The manifesto also addresses the growing problem of precariousness experienced by so many of Britain’s workers.

It sets out radical dispute resolution solutions, based on the view that labour rights should be universal in their application (covering all “workers”), and effective in their enforcement (via the creation of a labour inspectorate and a labour court).

Our proposals for collective bargaining are placed in the wider context of the international treaties and human rights conventions (almost all of which are already ratified by Britain) which establish the minimum standards for labour globally.

Particular attention is given to freedom of association protections, standards on trade union autonomy and protection against acts of anti-trade union discrimination.

We highlight the need to repeal the Trade Union Act 2016 and replace it with positive rights to improve the organisational and financial security of trade unions, and to ensure that independent trade unions have access to workplaces and improved rights to represent their members.

As has often been said, collective bargaining without the right to strike is little more than collective begging.

But in Britain, the law has developed in such a way that industrial action is always unlawful unless the union can demonstrate it satisfies the complex requirements to gain limited statutory protections against judge-made law.

Over the years, attainment of statutory protection has been made repeatedly and seriously more difficult.

The time has come to change the default legislative position and provide a positive right to strike in line with Britain’s existing international obligations.

Our manifesto offers an alternative vision for labour law. This is a manifesto for raising labour standards and improving working conditions for all workers.

It proposes changing the way in which working conditions are regulated by embedding the voice of workers at national, sectoral and enterprise levels and moving responsibility for regulation from legislation to collective bargaining.

It is a model that has form — and proven successful outcomes.

  • The Manifesto for Labour Law was launched last week in the Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, London. Speakers at the event included John Hendy, Keith Ewing and Carolyn Jones.


Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, International Employment Rights, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

Trade Agreements: TPP, TTIP, TiSA Disected – Fulll Conference Video

If you have a spare eight hours to spare here is a full video of a conference held on June 28th by the AFL-CIO called “Trading Up: Jobs, Governance & Security in US Trade Policy”

In the USA Global trade agreements have become a critical part of the national debate about the economic policies our country needs to ensure broadly shared prosperity today and in the future. This convening will examine the impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the U.S.-EU Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on jobs, wages, national security and democratic accountability.

Every remaining presidential candidate is on the record opposing the TPP. While proponents of the agreement reluctantly admit that corporate trade deals do have a down-side, they contend that the TPP is vital to the U.S. economy and that an improved Trade Adjustment Assistance program will help the small number of workers who are negatively impacted.

Proponents also argue that trade is a national security issue, that passage of the TPP puts the U.S. in charge of writing global trade rules and that rejection of the agreement will cede future control of trade to China.

Does the process and substance of international trade and investment deals work for working families globally?

This conference examines the arguments, the evidence and the alternatives.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, International Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights, Video | Leave a comment

EU To Sidestep EU Parliaments On CETA

Celia Malmstrom - hopes to sign CETA deal in October

Celia Malmstrom – hopes to sign CETA deal in October

The EU Commission is reportedly planning to push through a free trade agreement between Canada and the EU, known as CETA, without giving the bloc’s national parliaments a say in it.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU leaders that CETA would fall within the exclusive competence of the EU executive and therefore didn’t need to be ratified by national parliaments in the 28-nation bloc, sources in Brussels told the German news agency DPA.

Juncker would, however, allow national lawmakers and ministers from all member states to “scrutinize” the free trade agreement with Canada, the news agency reported.

Reached in 2013, CETA was at the time described by the EU Commission as a “landmark achievement for the transatlantic economy” and a model for negotiating a free trade deal with the United States, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom hopes CETA is adopted before the end of October when it could be signed during a planned visit to Brussels by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Commission President Juncker argues that allowing national parliaments to have a say in the agreement will paralyze the process and put the bloc’s credibility at stake. There are estimates that it could take as many as four years for CETA to get through parliaments.

However, most EU member states view the deal as a “mixed” agreement, meaning each country would have to push the deal through their parliaments.

At an EU trade ministers’ meeting in Brussels in May, a major controversy erupted over jurisdiction, with a number of ministers expressing their distrust about Brussels.

“In Austria, we have quite strong distrust,” Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner said after the meeting. “I think that the commercial side of CETA is a very, very good agreement and it is regrettable that everything is now being discussed in one boat and that possibly the whole boat will now be tipped.”

The Commission, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the 28 EU members, and Canada say CETA could increase trade between the two sides by some 20 percent.

However, the deal is facing opposition from campaign groups and trade unions, who say CETA is as dangerous as the planned EU-US TTIP trade deal. They say the deals hand power to multinationals and are a threat to democracy.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, International Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

AFL-CIO Outrage At Murder Of Activits & Arrest Of Trade Unionists In Mexico

President Obama regarding Mexico at North American Leaders Conference June 2016_Page_1President Obama regarding Mexico at North American Leaders Conference June 2016_Page_2

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, International Employment Rights, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

EU – Mexico Trade Deal Already Drafted

infographicbanner-mexico-euro-1080x674Jude Webber in the Financial Times, June 24th (who is based in Mexico City) reports that Mexico already has the draft of a trade agreement with the UK, which it drew up as part of a trio of measures designed to soften the blow of a Brexit.

Mexico’s trade relationship with the UK is small – only about 0.7 per cent of Mexican exports go to Britain, some $4.3bn – but “we see great opportunity,” the minister said – hence the forward planning. Mexico has had a free-trade deal in force with the European Union since 2000.

Mr Videgaray told Radio Formula a rough version of a UK trade deal complemented two other Plan B Brexit measures: Mexico deliberately wrapped up its foreign bond issuance before the referendum, and a month ago, it lined up an expanded credit facility with the IMF ahead of time, to provide it with firepower in case market volatility hammered the peso.

Mexico’s peso is the most traded emerging market currency, but has so far been spared the massive rout that had been expected in the event of a Leave vote. The peso was hovering just below 19 to the dollar in early afternoon, after touching an all-time high of above 19.5 overnight. Some analysts had seen it plunging to 21 to the dollar in the event of Brexit.

Mexican authorities stood by to inject liquidity and the central bank, which has a rate meeting on June 30, promised strong action if needed. Many analysts now expect a 25 point or 50 point hike then, although BBVA analysts sees no move at all.

Thanks to Ben Davis of the United Steelworkers.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in Campaign For Trade Union Freedom News, European Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment

Trade Agreements: UN Rights Expert Warns Against Bypassing National Parliaments

Alfred de Zayas UN Human Rights Expert Warns Against Trade Deals Being Pushed Through

Alfred de Zayas UN Human Rights Expert Warns Against Trade Deals Being Pushed Through

United Nations human rights expert Alfred de Zayas has warned that any plan by the European Union to bypass national parliaments to push through controversial trade deals would violate international human rights norms and standards.

“Trade deals prepared and negotiated in secret, excluding key stakeholders such as labour unions, consumer associations, health professionals and environmental experts and now parliaments, have zero democratic legitimacy,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.

Mr. de Zayas’s call comes as the European Commission is reportedly preparing to treat the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) deal with Canada as an ‘EU only’ matter which, if adopted, will exclude ratification by every national Parliaments in the EU, according to leaked documents and recent media reports that the Independent Expert discussed with various EU stakeholders.

“In view of the increasing vocal opposition by civil society organizations, a thorough open discussion should be carried out by national parliaments and referenda should be organized in all countries concerned,” Mr de Zayas said. “Disfranchising the public from participating in this important debate is undemocratic and manifests a profound disregard to peoples’ voice”.

An earlier consultation conducted by the European Commission in 2014 resulted in 97% of respondents from across Europe expressing opposition to the inclusion of asymmetrical investment protection in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA. “The same would apply to CETA, but no consultation was ever held,” he noted.

In the light of the European Council on 28th – 29th June , the expert called on States to respect their human rights obligations. “The human rights treaty regime entails binding obligations that States must observe,” the expert said recalling the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, and the American Convention on Human Rights.

“In case of conflict between trade agreements and human rights treaties, it is the latter that prevail,” he stressed. “States must not enter into agreements that delay, circumvent, hinder or make impossible the fulfillment of human rights treaty obligations.”

The Independent Expert noted that it is not for the State to guarantee profits to investors or transnational enterprises, but to legislate and regulate in the public interest. “The State cannot divest itself of this responsibility to act to protect populations under its jurisdiction by adopting precautionary health and environmental measures, by regulating labour standards and by ensuring food security,” he said.

“Trade agreements should only be ratified after human rights, health and environmental impact assessments have been conducted, which has not been the case with regard to CETA and TTIP,” Mr. de Zayas said.

“Ratification of CETA and TTIP would start a ‘race to the bottom’ in human rights terms and would seriously compromise the regulatory space of states. This is contrary to the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter and would constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a democratic and equitable international order,” the UN Independent Expert concluded.

Thanks to Ben Davis of the United Steelworkers.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Linkedin Pinterest Email
Posted in European Employment Rights, International Employment Rights, New Generation Of Trade Agreements, UK Employment Rights | Leave a comment