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NZ Uber Drivers Initiate Bargaining For First Ever Collective Agreement

Hundreds of Uber drivers who have unionised following their landmark Employment Court victory in October 2022 have initiated bargaining with the company for their first ever collective agreement in Aotearoa, FIRST Union confirmed today.

"This will be the first time Uber has had to work constructively with drivers to reach mutual agreement on pay and conditions since they entered the country in 2014," said Anita Rosentreter, FIRST Union strategic project coordinator.

"Collective bargaining is the most effective mechanism to increase workers’ wages and improve conditions on the job, and Uber drivers will finally have a united voice and a means to negotiate."

In a case taken jointly by FIRST Union and E tū, New Zealand’s Employment Court found that four Uber drivers were employees of the company and not contractors, confirming their right to unionise and bargain collectively, which contractors do not have. A similar agreement has already been negotiated between a union and Uber in the UK, where a Supreme Court rejected Uber’s appeal against drivers’ classification as workers in 2021.

"Drivers want to increase our pay, improve health and safety for us and our passengers, and have more of a say in how the Uber system affects us and our families," said Bill Rama, an Uber driver and FIRST Union delegate.

"At the moment, we’re paid on average less than the minimum wage, and only for about 50% of the hours we work, while Uber takes no responsibility for the safety of us or the riders."

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Under New Zealand law, companies are obligated to engage in bargaining with unions and there are legal safeguards in place to help conclude the negotiation of a collective agreement if a company refuses to participate.

"Drivers have been joining FIRST Union so that they have a stronger collective position ahead of bargaining and we’re continuing to welcome new members every day - now’s the perfect time to join," said Ms Rosentreter.

"Uber muscled into our country in 2014 without a second thought about employment law or the rights of the people working for them, and drivers are long overdue some agency in their lives."

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