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Uber to face class-action lawsuit in South Africa

(Image credit: Austin Distel)

Uber is facing a class-action lawsuit being brought by Mbuyisa Moleele Attorneys on behalf of drivers in South Africa. 

This follows the recent ruling in the UK, where the Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers should be classified as legal workers rather than contractors and be legally protected as such. 

Moleele Attorneys is being supported by Leigh Day who represented the UK drivers. 

“The claim will be based on the drivers’ entitlement to rights as employees under South African legislation and will seek compensation for unpaid overtime and holiday pay,” the lawyers said in a statement.

The ruling in the UK found that rather than acting as an agent, the stringent rules and regulations imposed by Uber on their drivers classified them as employers. 

Things such as fare setting, monitoring drivers, providing all customer information and instating mask requirements all contributed to the ruling. 

The South African attorney's argument is that our employment legislation is similar to the UK and so South African Uber drivers should be considered employees as well. 

In addition, they found that because most Uber drivers in South Africa are not working part time like they are in other countries, this contractor job is more like a full-time position. 

“This, along with the fact that the Competition Commission found that after deductions, some drivers earn less than the minimum wage, means that Uber drivers in South Africa work incredibly long hours just to make ends meet," the lawyers explained. 

"The supreme court recognised similar difficulties faced by drivers in the UK case by stating that in practice, the only way in which drivers could increase their earnings was by working longer hours while constantly meeting Uber’s measures of performance." 

Uber confirmed this fact in 2020, as part of their submission to the Competition Commission. They noted that South African drivers do take on the work as a full-time job. 

Uber has yet to comment on the suit. 

Leila Stein is an experienced multimedia journalist and content producer with a special interest in data journalism. she is skilled in news writing, editing, online writing and multimedia content production and have a Bachelor of Journalism  from Rhodes University and an Honours in Historical Studies from University of Cape Town.