After my last rather gloomy post, today there is some good news. I’ve posted elsewhere about the rise of uberfication and the gig economy, and also about how this links to supposed ‘self-employment’, which is really employment shorn of any protections. (I do not write about this in the current edition of the book, but it will be covered in the fourth edition, which comes out next month).
company after which the phenomenon was named, taxi app firm Uber, was subject
to a significant
ruling by a UK employment tribunal. Specifically, Uber was told that it
cannot treat its drivers as self-employed, and must pay them the national living
wage and holiday pay, and possibly even pensions. The ruling (which is likely
to be appealed against by Uber) will, if it stands, have significant
implications for other companies operating the same or similar business models.
As the lawyer representing the drivers who brought the case (with the support
of the GMB union) said:
“This is a
ground-breaking decision. It will impact not just on the thousands of Uber
drivers working in this country, but on all workers in the so-called gig
economy whose employers wrongly classify them as self-employed and deny them
the rights to which they are entitled.”
comes at a significant time, politically. In both the EU Referendum (and for
those interested in Brexit, do take a look at my Brexit blog tracing
developments) and, even more, the US presidential race, the issue of how
changing work practices erode security has been an issue. More widely, this
connects with the political consequences of globalization and the hollowing out
of middle class employment.
even on minimum wage and protection terms, employment remains a far cry from
the post-war social democratic model of secure employment with a social welfare
net. Even so, the ruling suggests that the direction of travel need
not inevitably be downwards, and that globalization and technology are not
forces of nature but may be corralled by politics and legislation. As I argue
throughout my book, what happens in organizations is not pre-ordained but is an
outcome of the choices we, collectively, make about how to live.