Uber drivers and delivery workers are petitioning New Zealand's Employment Court to pressure the ride-hailing company to recognise them as employees entitled to a bevy of rights under the country's labour laws.
The petitioners, who are being represented by the unions E Tū and First Union, called on the Employment Court to junk Uber's classification of workers as "independent contractors" and instead declare them to be employees with access to legal protections.
Peter Cranney, the lawyer for the group, said the case will examine whether Uber workers should receive such entitlements and protections, such as the right to paid leave and holiday pay and the right to join workers' unions and collectively bargain, along with protection against arbitrary and unjust dismissal, sexual harassment and discrimination. He cited the following laws as grounds for the petition:
- Employment Relations Act
- Holidays Act
- Pay Equity Act
- Wages Protection Act
- Minimum Wages Act
The statutes, the lawyer said, "impose obligations on employers about decent work conditions and human dignity, and are part of the fabric of New Zealand society".
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Cranney presented financial evidence before the court showing how Uber workers make less than half of the NZ$33 hourly rate they are promised.
While Uber maintains the contract with the workers does not constitute a formal employment relationship, the lawsuit will "determine the real nature of the relationship between the drivers and Uber," the lawyer said.