Uber South Africa – Following the EU Footsteps


(Harry) #1

Ever since the European Union court decided that Uber is a taxi service, the light of the rideshare fallacy has been seen globally. Uber is a "gig economy" where a private car owner can drive as an "independent contractor" for Uber, the world of transport has shown that the actual process of driving a person for money through an app request system is basically the same as any taxi service. In fact, the structure of whether a car is owned by a company or a private driver is actually canceled out by Uber's claim that independent drivers are private hire companies, which is their way of canceling out the "employee" status they don't want to have with their drivers.

Uber in South Africa

By doing this, Uber is basically saying that their app is another "digital hailing" app just like "Gett" and as such, drivers who are now classified as "individually owned companies" are no different to taxi services. In other words, Uber might be a technology company that provides an app to connect a driver to an Uber customer, but the driver is a taxi, and now the question remains will taxi licensing become an issue for Uber and the drivers to contend with?

In Europe, the coin has been tossed, and it has landed in favor of taxi's, which means that over the next few years we should be seeing stricter regulations for Uber drivers all over Europe. This is actually a good thing since all Uber has done introduced millions of cars onto the roadways, increasing congestion and taking away income from taxi drivers and buses, diverting a portion of this income to private car owners that are seeking ways to supplement their income. The immediate effect is that taxi medallions are now worthless, and ridesharing is becoming an integrated platform in every country in the world.

Now that we have that statement understood let's look at South Africa.

A recent labor court hearing overturned a suit presented by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that demanded to recognize Uber drivers as employees of the local Uber subsidiary, Uber Technologies SA.

The reason the ruling was overturned was that the claim was made against Uber Technologies SA and not Uber BV, which is the Dutch company that actually owns the Uber app. As such, drivers are in a contract between Uber BV and not Uber Technologies SA.

While the court did not state that a case against Uber BV might succeed, it did definitely state that there is no case to be made against the South African company.

My take:

  1. Anyone that signs a contract should know what they are signing.
  2. A contract with Uber is fully understood, it is between Uber and an "independent contractor." There is no employer-employee status.
  3. If you are not happy with the income then don't work for Uber, no one is forcing you to do so.
  4. Trying to make Uber an employer has failed in the past and will fail in the future, basically because the contract is straightforward. Also, when anyone takes on an independent contractor, it means that there are rules and regulations set by the client and the supplier. Imagine you contracted a plumber to fix your drains and then he sued you for pension and insurance coverage since he would claim he was an employee while working on your drains. Sounds daft, right? Well, that's the same with Uber, all drivers are contractors, not employees, so stop whining.

The big issue that everyone is missing is that Uber is slowly being recognized as a taxi service platform. Fleet owners use Uber just as taxi services use "Gett" and other taxi-hailing platforms; there is no difference except in the way Uber accepts drivers on their platform. The real issue will be when regulators decide that the "independent contractor" status is identical to a taxi service status and as such will demand that all Uber drivers get full licensing.

I expect that this will become the major issue. This and autonomous vehicles, but that's another issue.

Back to South Africa, the court might have thrown this case out, but the CCMA advised the Uber drivers to start a new suit against Uber BV. This might be more of a global initiative than a local one since the legal status of Uber drivers is globally identical. This means that if Uber drivers in South Africa start such a suit, they should ask Uber drivers around the world to join in.

Bottom Line: The whiners that want to be employees should leave Uber and stop making life hard for everyone else. No one is forcing you to work for Uber; it's your own choice. Earning money is hard, if you want to succeed then go out and work, find income, lead yourself to success. If you want to be an "employee," then go find a boss, and the next complaint you make will be "why am I making so little" to which the reply will be "you're fired."


(Kenneth Miller) #2

Finally, someone that sees things as they are. No more free riders, no more liberal bs. Work, earn and work some more. If you want to make money then work dammit. If you don’t like your work, find something else, f you don’t like that go join a hippy commune and smoke pot all day. If you don’t like that then go invent something and become the next Uber of something. Just stop whining and complaining about working for Uber. Its what it is, the pay is crap, the work is easy (unless you get some a-hole wino at 2am, or a drug deal going wrong in the middle of nowhere).


(Paul Garcia) #3

I also agree with this article. The truth is that their contract is straight forward, I have two jobs, one is working for Uber and Lyft, the other is freelance home improvement jobs (contractor). Both are similar, I have a client and I do my job. My client determines the job and we negotiate the pay. Some home owners can be real sticklers, standing over you all the time and pointing things out, while others just leave you to do the job. Uber is more like the latter but has hidden “cameras” watching your every move. The fact that Uber asks me to conform to certain standards is great, I don’t want them to pay my taxes, I don’t want them to be my boss. I understand that they are client sided, because the client is their customer, not us. We are their suppliers, and everyone knows that suppliers suck and customers are always right! The world is not fair, so as my Uber driving colleague Steve would say “go grow a pair of b-s”.


(Steve Mann) #4

Hey Paul, you quoting me? I like that man. Yeah, they should go grow a big pair and stop moaning about being an employee, bunch of losers. if you want job security then why pick self employment?