Geneva: Uber drivers will be able to “quickly resume their activities”

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GenevaUber drivers will be able to “quickly resume their activities”

The State of Geneva and the American multinational reached an agreement on Friday. Drivers will be able to resume their activities quickly, being hired by a third-party company.

Uber VTC services are no longer prohibited in Geneva.

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Less than a week after the sudden interruption of Uber VTC’s activities in Geneva, Guangzhou and the digital platform have found common ground. On Friday, the Department of Economics and Employment (DEE) reported that an agreement had been signed. According to a press release, “Uber BV recognizes its responsibilities in Geneva, in accordance with the decision of Federal Justice”. This agreement opens the door for the return of the American giant’s VTC service from now on.

Legal working conditions

In fact, the State indicates, the exercise ban imposed on Uber last week is lifted and drivers will be able to “quickly resume their activities”. The DEE also explains, without going into details, that “Uber BV is committed to ensuring that drivers benefit from the working conditions deriving from articles 319ss CO, the cantonal minimum wage and social security affiliations, and that until ‘at the end of the contractual relationship’.

Regarding social contributions linked to the multinational’s activity, in recent years, the press release stipulates that Uber “commits to enforcing the requirements of labor legislation and applying them to the situation of each driver”. However, to recover any amounts owed, drivers must claim them in writing from Uber.

Big doubts from pilots

In a separate press release, Uber explains that “a portion of drivers who wish to do so would become employees of partner companies.” According to what was explained to the drivers, a partnership with MITC mobility was notably celebrated. The American platform indicates that its partners will have “full rights and responsibilities towards their employees” and will guarantee “all payments of social charges, the minimum wage and other advantages. Uber, however, says it is aware that because “the majority of drivers have clearly expressed a desire to remain independent,” only a fraction will adhere to employee status.

For Osman, it won’t. The former Uber driver fears that the conditions offered by MITC are not advantageous. He explains that before Uber stopped, it charged the price of a ride, for example 20 fr. for a ten-minute ride, then paid Uber a 27% commission. According to him, he will receive 24 fr. per hour paid only at the time of customer pick-up. “So in a 10-minute run, it’s 4 fr. where you will still have to pay 32.7% commission. At this rate, you’re better off not working,” protests Osman.

“Nothing will change for drivers”

When contacted, Karim Sahnine, director of mobility at MITC, assures: “Drivers will continue to be able to work flexibly”. With regard to wages, he states that “with the exception of social security contributions levied under the law and collective agreements in force, nothing will change for workers, who will continue to receive their full contribution” calculated as was the case when drivers worked with Uber, 25% excluding tax of the ride price remains deducted including MITC Mobility services. MITC must pay the 7.7% VAT charged to customers.

The State Councilor responsible for the Economy, Fabienne Fischer, was delighted with the “great success of this agreement by which Uber finally recognizes that it is an employer, that it has salary and social obligations”. It is up to managers, professional associations, unions and employees to negotiate remuneration and the details of working conditions, not the State. “Our competence and our role are to frame and enforce the legal rules”, explained the magistrate. For the rest, they are private law contracts in which we do not have to intervene, as long as they are legal”. Fabienne Fischer warned that the commitment made and the obligations that this entails for the multinational will be monitored. “No one is above the law. Furthermore, in terms of image and reputation in particular, Uber knows without a doubt what it is exposing itself to if it does not respect the agreement entered into.

While welcoming the canton’s efforts to find solutions, Unia fears that Uber, by using a third-party company to complete contracts, “continues to transfer the risk of the business to the drivers”. Another point: the settlement of arrears, which must be the subject of a global agreement, believes the union. It therefore invites the Council of State to invite the social partners to the table in the future.

On the SIT side, Umberto Bandiera, union secretary, indicates that the organization takes “note of this agreement, but many questions remain unanswered, namely with regard to the application and management of the employment contract”

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