One question that gets me very hot anytime I bother to think of Uber for long is this: is Uber an app or a tech firm? That is one question a labor court in the UK just answered without anybody actually posing the question.
The court has determined that Uber drivers can now be classified as regular employees and so must be entitled to all the benefits workers get as if they are working for a regular company.
Here is how this fits into my question. If Uber is just an app, it means nobody can work for it because it is just an app right? On he other hand, classifying Uber as a firm means people can claim to be employed by the company known as Uber.
By people, I mean the drivers who drive the cars using the Uber app to get clients
The Uber business model somehow walks a fine line between not actually being a company but at the same time operating like one. Uber does not actually own the cars used for the taxi service. The drivers are termed self-employed business men who have flexible hours that can be determined by them.
Basically, if you are cab driver using the Uber app, you can decide when and how to work. You are your own boss. This business model ensures that Uber owes no commitment to car owners. Everything that happens to the car is owner’s business.
Back to the court ruling: if the decision of the court stands, how Uber does business would be affected drastically. For instance, drivers are now entitled to be paid a minimum wage, paid leave, and possibly pension. Just like any regular workers.
Uber is of course not going to take this decision quietly. According to Uber, this case which was instituted by the representatives of the drivers, the GMB Trade union, would be appealed against immediately.
Maria Ludkin, the lead lawyer for the trade union would no allow the fact of an appeal stop her from talking about the implications of this victory to drivers in the UK and other countries:
This is a monumental victory that will have a hugely positive impact on over 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife.
Uber drivers and other directed workers do have legal rights at work. The question for them now is how those rights are enforced in practice. The clear answer is that the workforce must combine into the GMB union to force the company to recognise these rights and to negotiate fair terms and conditions for the drivers.
This loophole that has allowed unscrupulous employers to avoid employment rights, sick pay and minimum wage for their staff and costing the government millions in lost tax revenue will now be closed.
This setback is happening at a time when Uber should be celebrating some landmark achievements. One of these is the recent launching of the Uber self-driving cars.
Self-driving cars are the new frontier of car technology, and Uber wanted to be in at the beginning. That is why test of Uber Self-driving cars started in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. The test would of course be in readiness for a full launch of Uber wholly-owned self-driving cars in the not too distant future.
And just last week, while other pioneers were celebrating the first ever self-driving taxi cab in Singapore, Uber decided to do theirs bigger and more news worthy. The first Uber-owned self-driving truck delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiswr beer to Colorado Springs.
It was journey of 120 miles that started off from from the brewery at Fort Collins.
Now that Uber is about to own cars and trucks, would be be right to call them a full fledged firm and not just a software.
Here is the thing, if the ruling of the court stands, users of the cab-hailing apps should expect to see an increased in the amount they have to pay for each trip.
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