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Court ruling UberPop driver wins ‘landmark’ unfair dismissal case

Taxi drivers protest in Basel

Swiss taxi drivers have also come out in protest against Uber, which they claim is undercutting their fares.

(© Keystone / Georgios Kefalas)

Lawyers have hailed a court ruling in favour of a former UberPop driver as a breakthrough for workers’ rights in Switzerland. Last week, a Lausanne employment tribunal ruled that the driver was unfairly dismissed by the ride-hailing company.

The court confirmed that the driver was an employee of Uber and should enjoy the same rights as a taxi driver who has a contract with the taxi company. The case has been reported by the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers as the first such ruling in Switzerland.

The driver worked 50.2 hours per week for the Uber Dutch subsidiary Rasier Operations between April 2015 and December 2016, reported the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA.

The driver was dismissed after complaints were made against him. But the Lausanne court ruled that the complainant had not been given a fair chance to respond to the accusations.

Raiser must now pay the former driver, who lives in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, CHF18,000 ($17,700) in compensation for unfair dismissal and for missed holiday entitlements, it is reported.

Uber differs from other taxi firms primarily in that it does not own cars or directly employ drivers, but connects passengers and vehicles via its app. But this arrangement has been sharply criticised by trade unions as violating employment laws.

“This case is very important,” the complainant’s lawyer told the newspapers. “The decision may motivate many people to ask for the same thing. Hundreds of drivers in Switzerland could also assert their rights.”

Uber could appeal the ruling, but if it becomes final the company may be obliged to pay social security contributions, accident insurance, sick days and holidays for the drivers, according to the newspaper reports.

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