By Adam Clark
Uber Technologies Inc. is seeking to turn a court decision that entitled its U.K. drivers to increased workers' rights to its advantage, by pressuring rivals to follow its lead in striking a deal with labor unions.
The ride-hailing company said Thursday that it would work with British union GMB to end the "exploitation" of more than 200,000 drivers working on other platforms, as it tries to distance itself from previous criticisms of its own labor model.
Uber agreed in May to formally recognize GMB, marking the first time globally the company had struck such a deal with a union for its ride-hailing drivers. The deal followed on from a U.K. Supreme Court decision this year which ruled a group of former Uber drivers were entitled to a minimum wage and other benefits.
On Thursday, GMB and Uber said in a joint statement that other companies were failing to provide drivers with those same legal rights, specifically identifying European mobility company Bolt and London-based cab company Addison Lee.
Both Bolt and Addison Lee rejected the criticism. Sam Raciti, regional manager for Bolt in the U.K., said its drivers were free to choose which platform they used.
"Bolt provides market leading earnings to drivers and value to customers; we don't take business advice from competitors motivated by their own agenda," Mr. Raciti said.
Addison Lee said it guaranteed the London Living Wage level or earnings to drivers on its platform, as well as a pension and holiday pay.
"The decline in driver earnings and overall wellbeing across the industry is a product of Uber's operating practices and predatory pricing model, which has led to a race to the bottom and threatened driver livelihoods," said Liam Griffin, chief executive of Addison Lee.
Uber's deal with GMB has divided critics of the company and its gig-economy model. While GMB and the International Transport Workers' Federation have said the move sets an example for the sector, smaller unions and labor activists have claimed Uber has still not fully complied with the U.K. court ruling.
Steve Garelick, a member of the GMB negotiating team for the deal, said that the union had made progress in organizing driver representation inside Uber hubs and on negotiations over insurance and holiday pay for drivers.
Write to Adam Clark at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires