Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Friday, February 19, 2021

Workers uber alles...

Today’s Supreme Court decision that Uber drivers are “workers” - with some (but not all) of the legal rights of employees - and not self-employed contractors is not just a victory with which the GMB can be justly pleased, it is a decisive victory, at the highest court in the land, for many working in the “gig economy” - and it is, in particular, an important defeat for a global tech giant.

Reliance upon legal protections is no substitute for organised industrial strength, but that doesn’t mean that our movement should pay no attention to the law. Indeed, the workers of the mid-nineteenth century who fought to limit working time realised that making demands of the capitalist state is part of the struggle against capitalism.


More than a hundred years later, Governments conceded individual statutory rights to employees in response to the strength of our movement in the workplace. Employers have sought to circumvent these rights by creating new models of precarious employment which deny these legal protections to their workers.


The challenge which the GMB now faces is to unionise tens of thousands of Uber drivers in order to help them to enforce their newly confirmed legal rights.


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