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App Drivers & Couriers Union accused Uber of trying to undermine a landmark ruling on workers’ rights

by our Industrial reporter @TrinderMatt

THE App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) accused Uber of trying to undermine a landmark ruling on workers’ rights and avoid a £5 billion VAT bill in the High Court today. 

The union acted as a defendant against the app-based private taxi giant’s bid to overturn previous rulings by securing a “statement of declaratory relief” that its contract model is not in violation of Transport for London (TfL) regulations. 

Uber launched its latest action after comments made by Lord Leggatt during a historic Supreme Court ruling in February that dealt a major blow to exploitative gig economy bosses when six justices found the firm’s drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage and paid holidays.

The dispute concerns Uber’s business model, whereby drivers and passengers contract directly together while the firm purports only to be a booking agent.

ADCU charges that this system was designed to help the firm avoid its employment and VAT obligations by misclassifying itself as a tech firm rather than a licensed TfL transport operator. 

During February’s ruling, Lord Leggatt questioned whether this could be against the law, so Uber is now seeking clarification that such an arrangement is legal.

The ADCU is asking the court to make the opposite declaration so that passengers must contract directly with the company rather than drivers. 

Its president Yaseen Aslam said: “Uber told the world [in February] it had turned over a new leaf, but this case proves that, despite the PR hype, Uber is still unwilling and unable to change its ways.”

In a statement, the firm claimed it was committed to the changes mandated by the Supreme Court and that its latest court action is merely “seeking to clarify a different and narrow point of law.”

A ruling is expected at a later date.

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