Uber shuts down in Geneva after court ruling
Uber has announced that it will be closing down its operations in Geneva. It comes after the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne ruled that Uber drivers in the city are not self-employed and should be salaried employees of the company.
Why can't I use Uber in Geneva?
On May 4, the Supreme Court ruled that Uber in Geneva was liable for payments to social security and for regular salary contributions, as - like courts in other cities and countries - it deemed drivers for the company should not be classed as freelancers or self-employed but as employees with salaries. Uber has now ceased operations in the canton indefinitely.
The decision sparked elation among other taxi operators in Switzerland, with one Geneva taxi driver saying, "It's a big win. I didn't sleep at all because I was so happy and called all my friends instead. We suffered a lot from Uber. I've been a taxi driver for 37 years, but since Uber came along, I've only made around 60 percent of my income."
Uber now forced to pay Swiss salaries and social security
As a consequence of the ruling, according to Swiss trade union Unia, 1.700 drivers in Geneva have now lost their jobs. The decision also makes Uber liable to pay employees' minimum wage and social security contributions from 2019 to today - a cost estimated at 21 million Swiss francs in total.
Uber driver Aria Jabbarpour said that many of his colleagues have now banded together to sue Uber for expenses. “I will declare all expenses for the car, and what else I have paid, to my employer. Uber is now my patron and has to pay for that. Anything else is cheating on drivers,” he explained.
Uber shutdown likely to spread to other cities in Switzerland
In a statement, Uber said that the decision in Geneva will not affect their services in Zurich, Bern, Basel and other Swiss cities. However, this was quickly contradicted by Geneva Councillor Mauro Poggia, who said that the ruling will affect the whole country in time.
According to labour law expert Thomas Geiser, the decision now sets a clear precedent for Uber and it will not be long before other taxi drivers sue the company. When asked whether this will mean the end of Uber in Switzerland, he said, “Uber simply has to rethink the business model… It is an absolute mistake to think that employment is something that prevents business. On the contrary, it works perfectly.”