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IAATW calls on ITF and the Belgian union to withdraw their undemocratic relationship with Uber

Ejaz Butt, president, TLDA Photo: TLDA

In the face of historic driver unity in support of progressive legislation from the EU Commissioners aimed at full labour rights for all Uber and other app workers, the actions of the BTB Belgian Union – who have no Uber Drivers as members – signing with Uber at this moment is nothing short of providing “Company Union” cover for Uber as it tries to smash through the EU legislative process.

By signing this secret agreement, BTB, like the GMB Union in the UK and Transport Workers Union (TWU) in Australia – under the aegis of the International Transport Forum (ITF)  MOU with Uber – undermines the global labour struggle against misclassification of app workers and for full labour rights at a moment when full victory is in sight.

In the UK, App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU’s) success against Uber this year, when the UK Supreme Court categorically ruled in drivers favour, has followed a pattern of global courts recognizing app drivers as due full labour rights, including this week when the New Zealand high court ruled that app drivers fall under the category for full labour rights.

“While Uber still fails to comply with these rulings, labour and governments must unite to demand full compliance with the law. It is absolutely necessary for drivers’ lives,” said Ayoade Ibrahim, Vice President of the IAATW of Lagos, Nigeria.

“The ITF and BTBs claim that they do not agree with Uber on the issue of misclassification – but it rings hollow when they are missing from the fight on the frontlines in the EU to demand full labour rights,” said IAATW Board Member Yaseen Aslam of London. “Uber has not complied with the UK Supreme Court ruling, but ITF has failed to demand Uber comply with the law.”

IAATW supports and welcomes the progressive draft legislation by the European Commission aimed at preventing “gig economy” platforms from exploiting their workers through misrecognition of status. The proposed directive seeks to ensure that people working through digital labour platforms are granted the legal employment status corresponding to their work arrangements. 

In the meantime the agreement between BTB and Uber remains confidential, and the BTB has no members who are app-drivers.

“Labour Unions must stand strong as Uber moves strongly to undermine the UC recommendations that would massively overhaul Uber’s current exploitative framework. Signing secret agreements with them during this time is company unionism, and undermines driver solidarity and drivers’ rights,” said Ejaz Butt, Secretary of  IAATW, from Toronto, Canada.

We urge the EU Commissioners and MEPs to remain steadfast in their determination to make full labour rights standard for all Uber and other app workers. We simultaneously demand that the BTB, the TWU in Australia and the GMB in Britain take immediate steps to force the ITF leadership to withdraw its unethical agreement with Uber and stop providing cover to the company who is determined to undermine our rights and destroy our worker movement and power.

 “The BTB has just joined the yellow Union list along with the GMB in UK, the TWU in Australia, the UFCW Canada, the Washington State Teamsters Local 117 and of course, the original company Union the IDG of the Machinists,” said Damaris Gordon, IAATW Vice President of Panama City. “The workers know how to defeat Uber, and we will, no matter what these big company unions do,” she added.

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About the IAATW – In January 2020, app-based drivers from sixteen countries and six continents convened in Oxford, England, to launch an international federation of driver organisations. Together we committed to advancing the rights of drivers and the dignity of our profession across the globe, by working together, across political, geographic, and company boundaries, to build real power for drivers and other app-based transport workers. Join us at www.iaatw.org.