Business Day

Netherland­s court deals blow to Uber, ruling drivers are employees

- April Roach Ellen Milligan

Uber Technologi­es 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 judgment. Uber must apply the Collective Labour Agreement for taxi transport to protect drivers, allowing them in some cases to claim overdue salary. Uber was also ordered to pay the local union, FNV, €50,000 ($59,000) in compensati­on for failing to comply with the agreement.

Uber said it would appeal. “We are disappoint­ed with this decision because we know that the overwhelmi­ng majority of drivers wish to remain independen­t,” Maurits Schönfeld, Uber’s GM Northern Europe said in a statement. “Drivers don’t want to give up their freedom to choose if, when and where to work.”


A spokespers­on for Uber said the company has no plans to employ drivers in the Netherland­s. It expects the ruling to have major implicatio­ns for the entire taxi sector, and will assess the potential implicatio­ns of the decision, he said.

Uber is fighting labour unions, civil rights groups and even Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren in the US over benefits for its drivers. In the 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 Monday’s ruling a “big win”, and said that the verdict means the Uber drivers should automatica­lly be considered employed by the company.

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