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Group of human rights lawyers prepare class-action lawsuit against Uber SA

They're petitioning the courts to have drivers recognised as employees, which will entitle them to compensation for overtime and holiday pay.

FILE: Uber argues that it is just an app, a platform where the sellers of a service - in this case rides - can meet people who need the service. Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - A group of human rights lawyers are on Tuesday preparing a class-action lawsuit against Uber South Africa.

They're petitioning the courts to have drivers recognised as employees, which will entitle them to compensation for overtime and holiday pay.

A South African firm is taking on the case in partnership with a UK-based law firm.

In February, the UK Supreme Court found Uber drivers should be legally classified as workers rather than independent contractors.

Uber argues that it is just an app, a platform where the sellers of a service - in this case rides - can meet people who need the service.

But partner at Mbuyisa Moleele Attorneys, Zanele Mbuyisa, said that didn't hold water.

“Uber says drivers are independent contractors, but their actions say they are employers in that they seek the remuneration that is paid to drivers for the work that they do. We want the court to classify the drivers as employees.”

Mbuyisa said the current model exploited drivers and with Uber now controlling an estimated 75% of the South African meter taxi market, that had an effect on thousands of drivers.

She said there were between 12,000 to 20,000 drivers in South Africa using the Uber app who would be covered by the lawsuit, which is an opt-out class action.

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