South Africa's Labour Court has overturned an earlier ruling made in 2017 by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) which stated that Uber driver partners registered in South Africa can be considered employees of Uber South Africa. The CCMA ruling in 2017 was made after some Uber driver partners presented their case stating that, among other things, they are subjected to unfair dismissals by being deactivated on the Uber platform without any reasons being given.
The main finding by the Labour Court was that the Uber driver partners should have rather taken their case up with Uber BV, the international company registered in the Netherlands, rather than the South African subsidiary.
It is also important to note that the CCMA ruling in 2017 only applied to 7 Uber driver partners in South Africa and only applied to them. At the time, Uber indicated that it would challenge the ruling stating that there is a long legal challenge ahead adding that they will present the CCMA ruling to the Labour Court for review.
“We are pleased with the court's ruling that determined the seven driver partners in question are not employees of Uber in South Africa. The judgment provides much needed legal clarity for the thousands of drivers in South Africa who enjoy the freedom of providing their services through the Uber app," said Samantha Allenberg, Spokesperson at Uber, when commenting on the ruling to iAfrikan.
Despite the ruling being overturned, the Labour Court judge presiding over the ruling did emphasize that it was overturned on a technical point which the Uber drivers' previous representatives, SATAWU (a transport workers union), were aware of but somehow overlooked. The judge did also note that the main question of whether Uber drivers are employees, still remains unanswered.
"Drivers who use Uber are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive - with no shifts or minimum hours,” concluded Allenberg.