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[ZURICH] Uber drivers are employees for which the company must pay social security contributions, a Swiss insurance agency has ruled, dealing a blow to the US ride-hailing platform that says drivers are freelance contractors.
The California-based startup whose cab service has expanded worldwide stands accused in many countries of bypassing national labour protection standards and shunning collective negotiation with drivers who work on freelance terms.
Suva - which as a provider of Swiss obligatory on-the-job accident insurance helps decide which workers are freelance - found Uber Technology drivers are staff because they faced consequences if they did not meet Uber rules and could not set prices and payment terms independently, broadcaster SRF reported.
SRF cited an appeal ruling in one driver's case it said it had seen. Suva was not immediately available for comment.
Labour representatives hailed the ruling, but local Uber boss Rasoul Jalali pointed out to SRF that the Suva decision was not the final word. "If we cannot find an agreement with Suva, we will have to rely on the courts," he said.
Founded in 2009, Uber has taken the world by storm but come up against opposition too.
Various services it has proposed have been banned in some countries and it faces numerous battles in U.S. courts over labour standards, safety rules and pricing policies that trigger fare surges at peak times.