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Uber To Try An Appeal - But Drivers Say They Will Win It

Today’s Court of Appeal’s decision, which will allow ridesharing multinational Uber to seek to appeal last year’s Employment Court decision regarding the employment status of four current and ex- drivers, is not an unexpected development and will allow the unions taking the case to cement the original Employment Court ruling, says FIRST Union.

Last year’s Employment Court decision found that the four drivers were employees of Uber, entitling them to basic employment protections like sick and annual leave and the right to join a union and bargain collectively. However, rather than accepting the ruling, which is consistent with similar court verdicts in France and the UK, Uber is trying to appeal. FIRST Union President Robert Reid said drivers were confident of winning despite Uber's attempts to delay the impact of the Employment Court's original verdict.

"Uber would very much like to return to the early ‘cowboy’ days of their arrival in New Zealand, where our lax employment laws could be easily skirted and exploited," said Mr Reid.

"But returning to the Employment Court just offers us another chance to conclusively show that Uber has wrongly denied its workers employment rights in order to wring every last dollar from New Zealand’s economy and workers."

The date for Uber’s appeal has not yet been set, while organising of drivers continues through FIRST Union and E Tū. Mr Reid said that since last year’s ruling, the number of union member drivers had grown to over 700, and dozens more were joining each week.

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"The Employment Relations Authority cases filed for some hundreds of drivers are hold, but with over five hundred claims already submitted, we will continue to assist our new members and the paperwork will not stop," said Mr Reid.

"Ultimately, this is about sovereignty - will we let ourselves be bullied into exploitative employment relationships with global employers who have no commitment to New Zealand, or will we stand up for what makes our country fairer and more progressive?"

"Legislative reform to end worker misclassification should also be a priority for all political parties going into the next election. Employment status is the gateway to our most fundamental rights and protections at work and our government should ensure it is unobstructed for all workers."

Bill Rama, an Uber driver who was one of the four that took the original Employment Court case, said there was no going back to the status quo and drivers had entered ‘a new era’.

"We’re meeting regularly, sharing our concerns with each other, and ramping up our efforts to recruit more drivers - there is no going back," said Mr Rama.

"Uber will always appeal these decisions and will always benefit from drivers being denied their real employment rights, so we have to demand more and set higher standards in New Zealand."

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