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Landmark tribunal ruling sees Unite plan to set up ‘bogus self-employment’ unit

Unite the union press release

28 October 2016

Britain’s largest union, Unite announced it would be setting up a special ‘bogus self-employment’ unit to pursue employers who were shamelessly dodging their responsibilities by classifying workers as self-employed.

The announcement came after the GMB won a landmark employment tribunal which ruled Uber drivers were workers rather than self-employed. The decision means the drivers are entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks, and the national minimum wage.

Unite believes the ruling paves the way for similar cases and will be setting up a legal unit to support its members in all sectors from construction to the ‘gig’ economy.

Commenting Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said:

“Congratulations to the GMB. This is another landmark ruling for the trade union movement which will send shock waves through the ‘gig’ economy and opens up the way for legal action against bogus self-employment across all sectors.

“Following this judgement Unite will be setting up a specialised unit to pursue those employers who shamelessly dodge their responsibilities by classifying workers as self-employed.”

Demanding government action Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner added:

“We’ve seen an explosion in the number of people working as self-employed in the UK partly down to the emergence of the gig economy and firms like Uber and Deliveroo.

“For many of these workers eking out a living in the gig economy, it’s a world of insecure work and casualised labour. But instead of a tap on the shoulder or the brass tally of the docks from decades ago, workers are left waiting for a text or the beep of an app to know if they have work.

“We cannot turn the clock back to the Victorian era, the government needs to put a floor underneath all workers’ rights. Otherwise living standards will fall and peoples’ working lives become increasingly insecure.”


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.


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