Uber tribunal judges criticise 'fictions' and 'twisted language'

Judges who ruled that Uber drivers are not self-employed make scathing assessment of the company

The employment tribunal judges who ruled that the Uber drivers are not self-employed and should be paid the “national living wage” were scathing in their assessment of the company. Among the most unequivocal sections of the judgment were the following:

Any organisation ... resorting in its documentation to fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology, merits, we think, a degree of scepticism.

The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous.

Ms Bertram [Uber’s regional general manager for the UK] spoke of Uber assisting the drivers to “grow” their businesses, but no driver is in a position to do anything of the kind, unless growing his business simply means spending more hours at the wheel.

Reflecting on the [Uber] case, and on the grimly loyal evidence of Ms Bertram in particular, we cannot help being reminded of Queen Gertrude’s most celebrated line: ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’.

The absurdity of these propositions [Uber’s arguments on the contract between drivers and passengers] speaks for itself.

We are satisfied that the the supposed driver/passenger contract is a pure fiction which bears no relation to the real dealings and relationships between the parties.

It is not real to regard Uber as working ‘for’ the drivers ... the only sensible interpretation is that the relationship is the other way around.

Uber … in numbers

40,000 The number of Uber drivers in the UK

£5 The hourly wage that one of the drivers who took the case claims he earned in some months

$62.5bn Uber’s valuation based on its last round of funding

7 The years that Uber has been in operation

460,000 The number of people who could be falsely classified as self-employed in the UK

£314m The yearly estimated cost in lost tax and employer national insurance contributions from falsely classified employees, according to Citizens Advice


Shane Hickey

The GuardianTramp

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