Uber gives guarantees and obtains a grace period in Geneva
GenevaUber pays and gets a grace period: the real debate begins
The American giant has given guarantees and can continue to practice. Negotiations are starting on the riders’ arrears and the type of contract they are subject to.
Uber will be able to continue operations in Geneva until at least October 15. The VTC platform received the extension of its preliminary license from the state, which expired on July 31. However, the lower part of this file is far from regulated. But the canton has received guarantees from the American multinational, allowing it to lift the lockdown and finally start negotiations on the vexing issues: the calculation of drivers’ arrears since 2019; and the model contract that regulates their future work.
930,000 francs allowances
On the one hand, Uber has agreed to offer an exceptional and unique transfer bonus to all drivers who have been active on its platform in the past six months, regardless of whether they have decided to join MITC, the subcontractor who henceforth is their employer. By the end of August, around 800 drivers will be paid a net amount of CHF 930,000 in relation to their previous work.
5 million in a blocked account
On the other hand, and perhaps most importantly, Uber has committed to depositing a security of 5 million francs with a Geneva notary by the end of August. This blocked amount represents a guarantee for payment arrears. Government Councilor Fabienne Fischer made it clear that this in no way prejudges the amounts due. Depending on the calculations made in August, it may be reassessed at a later date.
These two commitments authorize the opening of real negotiations, conducted by two tripartite commissions composed of the state, Uber and the unions (Unia and SIT). The first should define the method of calculating arrears. She is scheduled to present her results at the end of August. The second deals with the employment contract model that the companies that will work for Uber (previously MITC) will have to adopt.
Two topics: the calculation of working hours and costs
On this last point, Fabienne Fischer insisted: “The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labor has not validated anything to date”. The contract currently being proposed by MITC may therefore result in arrears if it proves unsuitable at the end of the talks. These will focus on two major issues, explained the elected Green: “What counts as working time? And how are drivers paid for their expenses, especially providing their vehicle? At these two points, Uber has transferred its entrepreneurial risk to drivers. However, according to the Federal Court of Justice: Drivers are not entitled to take this risk.
Fabienne Fischer wants the waiting time to be paid
The state councilor also made no secret of her inspection of the files: “Paid working hours must not be reduced to running. We need to come to a situation where the waiting time is paid’ as soon as the driver is available to his employer. Currently, MITC only pays them between the time they accept a ride and the time it ends.
Three times “historic”
Despite the difficulties that this case entails and the long road that still has to be covered, Fabienne Fischer persevered. Yes, “the judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (Note: see box “Recalling the Facts”) is historic”; yes, “the agreement with which Uber has agreed to assume its responsibilities as an employer for the period 2019-2022 is outrageous”, and yes, “that today we manage to have guarantees for the implementation of a social partnership, I believe that I for absolutely historical “.
Uber wants to be “constructive”.
Uber said in a press release that it had “done everything it could to comply with the Federal Court’s ruling,” was “committed to honoring the agreement it had with the state,” and “fundamentally changed its business model.” The company believes that it has “demonstrated on many occasions its willingness to find solutions that are fair to all parties”, “delivered on its commitments” and “demonstrated its ability to be a good partner”. And finally: “We will constructively continue this ongoing process.”
The trade unions SIT and Unia were pleased “to have finally received the required guarantees from Uber to be able to continue the negotiations”. They believe in their press release that their mobilization and “the pressure exerted by the drivers have allowed social dialogue to finally find its place in this historic conflict (…) and compared to what happened in June and June to move in a better direction by mid-July.” But “there is still a long way to go” to agree on backlogs and future working conditions.
On May 30, the Federal Court of Justice ruled: Uber drivers are employees, not freelancers – which the American company had always denied. The decision, which upheld the position taken by the Geneva courts at the end of 2019, had retroactive effect for five years. The canton therefore announced this on June 3rdUber was banned from operating at the end of the lake until the company was put in order, particularly by paying vacation arrears and social security contributions to its drivers.
On June 10, Uber obtained a temporary suspension of its operating ban. The company had entered into an agreement with the state a business empowers it to continue its activity as long as it recognizes drivers as employees and retrospectively pays those who claim to be. This suspension was temporary: it ran until July 31 with the possibility of extending it from month to month, at the latest until September 30.
Since then, drivers have been hired by an Uber subcontractor, MITC, which has forced them to sign contracts that the unions have heavily criticized, particularly for failing to account for waiting time between rides. .