Denmark: Trade union LO open to dialogue with Uber

Newly elected President of LO, Lizette Risgaard, has invited the on-call taxi company Uber to social dialogue.

As one of her first tasks as new President of LO, Lizette Risgaard invited the digital on-call taxi company Uber to talks about the status of the company and its employees, according to an interview on 10 December in the daily paper Berlingske. In the interview, she also encouraged the employer organisations to take part in dialogue about how to deal with this new type of company based on what is called the 'shared economy' in Denmark. Ms Risgaard emphasised that the shared economy was a misleading term and she preferred to use the term ‘platform economy’ for such companies since nothing is being shared between the actors in this relationship.

It is not LO’s intention to demand that a collective agreement is put in place, Ms Risgaard said, thus underlining that the approach is not a new ‘Ryanair case’. However, LO believes it necessary to find ways to ensure that ‘LO and the digital platform companies together carry out business in accordance with Danish legislation and with labour market regulation in Denmark’, as Mr Risgaard remarked. This is an important statement because, as it stands, it is not clear whether Uber complies with the legislation that encompasses the right and duties to operate a taxi company not to mention employing taxi drivers. 

Regarding the latter, on 7 December 2015, Copenhagen Police pressed charges against four Uber drivers for illegal taxi driving. And at the launch of Uber’s operations in Copenhagen on 19 November 2014, the Danish Transport Authority (Trafikstyrelsen) had already filed a complaint with the police against the service provider for illegal taxi driving and violating the Act on conveyance of passengers (the case is still pending).

Ms Risgaard said she would encourage Uber to join a Danish employer organisation, which would ensure that the drivers are covered by a collective agreement. However, she acknowledged that it would be difficult to get the new ‘platforms’ to take on the role of an employer in the traditional sense.

Taxi drivers protest against Uber

On 16 September 2015, around 200 taxi drivers in Copenhagen protested in front of the parliament building at Christiansborg, against the disputed American transport service Uber. The drivers demanded political action and a stop to what they consider an illegal and anti-competitive service by the company. Uber and its drivers are not officially registered. The demonstration, which took place simultaneously in many capital cities around the world, was organised by the Business Interest Association of Taxi Operators and the taxi drivers in the United Federation of Danish Workers, 3F. 

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