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CTU To Support Uber Drivers Rallying For Basic Workers’ Rights

The NZ Council of Trade Unions will be supporting Uber drivers as their legal fight for basic workers’ rights, including even being paid the minimum wage, heads to the Court of Appeal.

Drivers are holding a rally outside the Court of Appeal in Wellington at 9am today, as the court begins its appeal against the Employment Court verdict in 2022 (in a case taken jointly by FIRST Union and E tū) that four drivers were permanent employees, not contractors.

“Uber drivers have been the denied the fundamental rights that most of us are able to take for granted – they aren’t even being paid the minimum wage. It’s wrong and needs to change,” said Acting CTU President Rachel Mackintosh.

“As a country we must support the drivers in their fight against a multinational company that is trampling on their legal employment rights.

“This case is relevant not only to gig or platform workers, but to all working people. All workers who have been misclassified as contractors have the right to test their employment status in court, and it should worry us all that this Government is threatening to take that right away.

“The distinction between an employee, who works for an employer under their control and direction, and a genuinely independent contractor (who carries out a business in their own right) is an essential one that the court has an important role in upholding.

“The difference between a contractor and employee is one of substance. The uber drivers who are at the heart of this case are, in substance, employees. They are not independent contractors; they have no ability to bargain contracts and are significantly under the control of the platform provider, who dictates their pay and punishes them if they try and take control of their hours.

“Gig economy workers exist in an employment context that heightens their vulnerability to unfair treatment. That’s why we need to reform employment law to protect their rights, not undermine them as this Government has threatened,” said Mackintosh.

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