France: New union covers UBER drivers
A new union, UNSA SCP-VTC, was launched in October 2015 to cover chauffeur services that are not affiliated with taxi companies – specifically drivers working for Uber.
With the creation of the SCP-VTC, independent drivers who are not employed by a company but work for Uber, now have the backing of a union that is part of the National Federation of Independent Unions (UNSA).
On 8 October when Uber decided to reduce its prices by about 20% (in French) to compete against taxi drivers, Uber drivers created the second union – Syndicat des exploitants de transport des personnes et VTC (UNSA SCP-VTC), even though Uber promised compensation for its drivers during the six weeks of the price reduction. UNSA has already successfully covered motorcycle taxis and more traditional taxi drivers who are mainly affiliated to two other union confederations, General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT).
Secretary General of the SCP-VTC, Sayah Baaroun, is a typical Uber driver – a 28 year old who was previously working in the restaurant sector before becoming a crane operator and then a jobseeker. He paid €1,200 himself for training to become an Uber driver, the company then offering facilities to obtain insurance, an accountability service and car rental services. In an interview he complained that he earns approximately €2,000 per month working 60 to 70 hours a week and that it was becoming increasingly harder to make a living as Uber hires more and more drivers.
There has been some discussion as to drivers’ contractual obligations to Uber. The SCP-VTC asked the US-based company for clarification regarding its view on the employment status of drivers as the union considers Uber drivers as ‘employees’ (in French). One union member said he went to the labour court (Conseil des prud’hommes) to ask to change his partnership contract to an employment contract. On 22 September 2015, the Constitutional court decided that UberPOP – Uber’s ridesharing service which was banned in February 2015 (in French) – violated the French constitution.
On 26, 27 and 28 January 2016, taxi drivers held demonstrations in central Paris (in French) and at the city’s two main airports against unfair competition asking the government for immediate action to resolve the issue.