Uber strikes deal with Belgian trade union: 'A first for the European Union'
After years of fierce opposition, the Belgian socialist transport union BTB has reached an agreement with Uber to represent its drivers, several Belgian media report on Friday. A "historic agreement" and a first for the European Union, according to BTB and Uber Belgium.
Trade unions have fought few companies as fiercely as Uber, but their protest has not stopped the ride-hailing app from taking root across the globe. The Belgian socialist transport union BTB, part of the FGTB union, has therefore decided to change its approach. BTB signed an agreement with Uber to represent Belgian Uber drivers and initiate a social dialogue.
The US ride-hailing company has only struck similar agreements with local unions in the UK and Australia before. There will be at least four consultation meetings a year, BTB will eventually be able to appoint a representative and the union will have a physical point of contact in Uber's Belgian office.
Belgian Uber drivers are still mostly self-employed rather than employees. A Belgian labour deal signed in February tightened criteria to combat false self-employment within the platform economy, but the deal did not rule out self-employment.
The union and Uber still fundamentally disagree on the status of drivers, the agreement explicitly states, but "that ideological discussion should no longer stop us from trying to improve their situation," BTB deputy federal secretary Tom Peeters said in a double interview with Uber's Belgian top executive Laurent Slits. Peeters and Slits call the agreement "historic" and a first for the European Union.
© BELGA PHOTO PAUL-HENRI VERLOOY