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JOHANNESBURG – The riding giant Uber will face a class action lawsuit in South Africa as drivers, like some overseas countries, demand workers’ rights.
To achieve this, lawyers at South African law firm Mbuyisa Moleele will be teaming up with UK-based law firm Leigh Day, which has already been granted certain worker rights for 25 Uber drivers in the UK.
“Uber drivers in other parts of the world now have labor rights like paid vacation after Uber was beaten in court. Uber will only pay South African drivers if we take them to court. Motorists may be entitled to paid vacation and unpaid overtime, “Mbuyisa Moleele’s lawyers said in a statement.
“The case will be on behalf of drivers who want to be recognized as employees rather than independent contractors. Leigh Day supports SA-based attorneys at law firm Mbuyisa Moleele, who are launching a similar class action lawsuit in SA and have asked local Uber drivers to join the lawsuit. “
The law firms also pointed out that many South African Uber drivers do not own a car and therefore have to work long hours to make ends meet on their current wages.
Minimal legal protection
In both the UK and South Africa, Uber drivers are treated as self-employed, which gives them minimal legal protection – a status the US hail-fighting firm wanted to maintain in its longstanding UK litigation.
That ended last week when the UK Supreme Court ruled that a group of 25 drivers were entitled to workers’ rights like the minimum wage.
Although Uber said the decision will not apply to all 600,000 drivers in the country, it was a blow to the company’s business model and a significant victory in battles that were being fought on many fronts against the so-called gig economy.
While companies say the gig economy offers flexibility for workers, unions say, among other things, it is exploitative.
However, not all legal challenges against Uber are successful. Last November, Uber took on a challenge in its home market in California, where voters backed an election proposal that cemented app-based grocery delivery and hail drivers’ status as independent contractors rather than employees.
IOL & Reuters