Uber has recognized a trade union for the first time. 70,000 drivers in the UK can now join and collectively negotiate wages, sick pay, and pensions.

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GettyImages 1176816141 (1) NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 24: Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, UBER, speaks onstage during the 2019 Concordia Annual Summit - Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 24, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images
  • Uber made history on Wednesday by recognizing one of the UK's biggest trade unions.

  • It's the first recognition deal between a ride-hailing app and a union.

  • Its 70,000 UK drivers can join the GMB to negotiate over pay, pensions, and support, the union said.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Uber on Wednesday officially recognized a trade union for its drivers for the first time.

It struck a recognition deal with one of the UK's largest trade unions, GMB. Uber's 70,000 UK drivers can now join to negotiate wages, holiday and sick pay, and pension with Uber, according to GMB's joint press release with Uber.

This is the first such agreement between a gig economy ride-hailing service and a union.

Drivers will also be able to represent other drivers who lose access to the Uber app, and will also have access to drivers' meeting hubs for help and support.

The union would also meet Uber's senior staff four times a year to discuss driver issues and concerns, GMB and Uber said.

The deal doesn't apply to delivery riders working for Uber Eats food service, which employs around 30,000 couriers in the UK.

GMB has existed for 132 years, and represents more than 620,000 UK workers.

The union recognition comes two months after Uber announced it reclassified UK drivers as "workers," guaranteeing them a minimum wage, paid vacation, pensions, and other additional protections under the country's labor laws.

"Whilst Uber and GMB may not seem like obvious allies, we've always agreed that drivers must come first, and today we have struck this important deal to improve workers' protections," Jamie Heywood, Uber's regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said in a statement to Insider.

He said that Uber was the only player in its industry to offer the UK's national living wage, holiday pay, a pension, and now full union representation.

"This ground-breaking deal between GMB and Uber could be the first step to a fairer working life for millions of people," Mick Rix, GMB's national officer, said in a statement to Insider.

"This agreement shows gig economy companies don't have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights. When tech private hire companies and unions work together like this, everyone benefits - bringing dignified, secure employment back to the world of work," Rix said.

The App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU), whose leading figures won against Uber in a UK court ruling over drivers' rights in February, said in a statement to Insider that the deal between Uber and GMB was a "welcome development" but workers and their unions should remain "cautious."

The ADCU said it doesn't want to be recognized by Uber because the company "continues to violate basic employment law such as the right to minimum wage for all working time and holiday pay.

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