Top EU court: Uber should be considered a transport company
22 December, 2017, 00:54
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that Uber must be "classified as a service in the field of transport" within EU law. Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances Lorraine O'Grady labeled the ruling as a legal win over services looking to "return to the type of working practices we thought we'd seen the back of decades ago", adding how major technological advancements should do the exact opposite and be used for improving working conditions.
But the Singapore authorities have largely embraced private-hire vehicle services, he noted, pointing out that the developments in the past two years were aimed at governing the burgeoning industry.
"Today, the court has called it to order and reminded Uber that its feet are solidly planted on the pavement, just like everyone else".
Those found operating a private-hire auto without a decal or vocational licence can be fined up to $1,000, jailed up to three months, or both, for a first offence.
A spokesperson for Uber said the ruling "will not change things in most European Union countries where we already operate under transportation law". These drivers claimed to be workers, and said Uber had failed to comply with its legal obligations to provide them with national minimum wage and holiday rights, and that a driver was dismissed for raising a complaint about the risk of drivers using false insurance documents.
While the court's finding did not address the status of Uber drivers-are they independent contractors or employees, entitled to costly company benefits?-that issue is also in play, in other courts, and is likely to be decided in favor of granting drivers full employee status.
Based in San Francisco, Uber has grown rapidly since its founding in 2009 to operate in 77 countries and more than 600 cities around the world.
Now, with the court decision in hand, Uber's opponents say the firm will have to take greater responsibility for its operations in Europe, a task that is becoming increasingly important as the so-called gig economy expands from Ireland to Greece. The ride-hailing service pledged to continue talks with European cities. Uber customers, not so much. It said the ruling "confirms that Uber does not simply exist "on the cloud" but is well established with its wheels firmly on the road".
The ECJ's ruling gave additional credence to such decisions, posing a real threat to Uber's future growth plans.
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