PRETORIA, Uber drivers are now protected by South African labour laws after a ruling by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), a dispute resolution body established under the country’s Labour Relations Act, which says they can form unions, bargain and take strike action.
Before the ruling, Uber argued that the drivers are independent contractors who have no rights under South African labour laws. The app-based taxi service is deemed a great success by many but for some drivers there have been major challenges, including being targeted and victimised by counterparts, unsafe working conditions and arbitrary dismissals.
Uber drivers in South Africa say that sometimes they are de-activated from the Uber system without reasons being given and some have referred unfair dismissals to the CCMA.
The CCMA, however, was confronted with the problem that these cases couldn’t be heard because Uber insisted that they are not employees, and that they are rather independent contractors, and that they cannot be involved in any dispute in the CCMA. So, what the award has done, is it unpacked the respective parties views on what the relationship is, and it has concluded that the Uber drivers are in fact employees, said Uber legal representative Bradley Conradie.
Themba (not his real name) was an Uber driver for a year. He was deactivated from the system without any reason given.
When he tried to find out why, he was sent from pillar to post, and a year later still has no answer. He says there is still a long road ahead, but he has welcomed the CCMA ruling.
In an e-mail response, Uber says the change in the employment relationships only applies to the seven de-activated driver-partners, and it will take the matter on review before the labour court.
It says there is a long legal challenge ahead before the CCMA ruling can be considered a win for any side, but that it provides an important opportunity for all involved to examine the role of independent contractors in an increasing digital age.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK