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Uber Drivers To File In Employment Court As New Gig Economy Report Launched


A new report on the state of the gig economy that includes a survey of gig workers is being presented to Minister Michael Wood at Parliament today, as FIRST Union and E tū confirm they are in the process of filing a case in the Employment Court on behalf of Uber drivers.

'Gig Work in Aotearoa' is a report by FIRST Union that delves into the experiences and difficulties faced by gig workers like rideshare and food delivery drivers, and considers international precedents and potential options for reform.

The report (available HERE) is based on a late-2020 survey of workers in the gig economy in which more than half of respondents estimated their hourly income to be less than the minimum wage after expenses.

FIRST Union and the Council of Trade Unions say the evidence is concerning and requires urgent legislative changes to end loopholes in industrial law that enable the exploitation of gig workers, as well as better enforcement of existing laws.

The case being filed in the Employment Court seeks a determination that Uber drivers are employees rather than contractors. As contractors, they are denied basic rights, such as holiday pay, sick leave, and the right to join a union and collectively bargain their wages and conditions. They also have no legal recourse in the event of an unfair dismissal, FIRST Union says.


Wednesday 14 July, 10:30-11:00am

Parliament Forecourt, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

An Uber driver will drive representatives from FIRST and the CTU onto the Parliamentary Forecourt to meet Minister Michael Wood and deliver the report. Union representatives will be available for media interviews afterwards.


"Gig workers currently have no voice at work, and lack protections and fair remuneration for what are precarious and difficult jobs," said Anita Rosentreter, FIRST Union Strategic Project Co-ordinator.

"They aren’t able to join a union or speak publicly about their situation without consequences, and this is the first time we’ve been able to gather data from across the gig economy to examine some of the wider trends."

"It’s the right time for our unions to come together and work with these drivers to test their employment status in Court, and it’s the beginning of an important process that could have far-reaching benefits for workers who are currently misclassified as contractors."

"We have an opportunity in Aotearoa to get ahead of the worst excesses of the gig economy and learn from ample overseas evidence that employment laws need to be fit for purpose, not prone to exploitation by companies like Uber."

"More than half of the respondents to this survey said that their hourly income after expenses is less than minimum wage - that is simply not acceptable and can only happen due to gaps in our regulatory framework and the enforcement of it."

"More than ever, we need to build resilience as a nation, and dealing with the cracks in our regulation that have benefitted overseas billionaires while impoverishing Kiwi workers should be an obvious priority for our Government."

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