Uber loses battle over drivers’ rights in the Netherlands

BLOOMBERG – Uber Technologies Inc lost another suit over its drivers’ working rights after an Amsterdam court ruled workers who ferry passengers using the Uber app in the Netherlands are covered by a local collective labour law.

The legal relationship between Uber and its drivers meets all of the characteristics of an employment contract, the court said in its judgement. Uber must apply the Collective Labor Agreement for Taxi Transport to protect drivers, allowing them in some cases to claim overdue salary. Uber was also ordered to pay the local labour union FNV EUR50,000 in compensation for failing to comply with the agreement.

Uber said it will appeal the decision.

“We are disappointed with this decision because we know that the overwhelming majority of drivers wish to remain independent,” Uber’s General Manager of Northern Europe Maurits Schönfeld said in a statement.

“Drivers don’t want to give up their freedom to choose if, when and where to work.”

Uber is fighting labour unions, civil rights groups and even Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren in the United States (US) over benefits for its drivers. In the United Kingdom (UK), Uber earlier this year lost a lawsuit over whether its drivers are workers, forcing the company to formally recognise a labour union that will give its drivers greater collective bargaining powers.

The FNV union called yesterday’s ruling a “big win”, adding that the verdict means the Uber drivers are now automatically employed by the company, according to a statement.

The Uber Technologies logo on a smartphone in Dobbs Ferry, New York. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG