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Uber drivers hopeful as government considers digital directive

Digital taxi drivers in Kenya have a reason to hope for a better future after the Ministry of Labour promised to consider a historic ruling made by the United Kingdom Supreme Court requiring Uber to recognize its drivers as employees.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui addressed the matter while addressing the plight of striking Uber drivers who have protested over the working conditions set by the multinational.

The CS said the UK ruling was not binding on Kenya but noted that the Kenyan government was reflecting on how it can implement it.

Like their counterparts in the UK, Kenyan drivers want the government to put in place measures recognizing them as employees and not independent contractors.

CS Chelugui said that suitable regulations to guide the digital employment sector in Kenya had not been developed.

“Ruling in London on Friday does not apply to our jurisdiction. We can only reference. We cannot act on it as a country, but it can only persuade us,” he said.

Chelugui explained that labour laws on internet-based services had not been properly developed in Kenya, so the government needs an engagement to develop guidelines and regulations on how to run such an economy.

On Friday, February 18, UK’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Uber in a case where a lower court ruled that its drivers should be recognized as employees with access to the minimum pay and paid leave.

The ruling sent shockwaves across the world as the jurisprudence could be adopted in other countries and change the entire model of how digital taxi services operate.

A few days after the ruling, Uber taxi drivers in Nairobi took to the streets in protests over poor working conditions and also claimed that the State had ignored them for a long time.

They expressed the challenges they face, lamenting that they are running bankrupt and their cars have been auctioned because of their poor financial stability.

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