COTU in a bid to Categorize Uber drivers and M-PESA agents as employees


Last month, the British Supreme Court made a ruling that states that Uber drivers should be given more protection and this has mobilized a global debate on the need to support the gig economy.

On Tuesday, Uber said it would reclassify more than 70,000 drivers in Britain as workers. This means that they will receive a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan.

Kenya’s Central Organisation of Trade Union (COTU) has also found a ground to call upon Parliament to move with speed in legislating relevant laws that will see mobile money agents, taxi drivers and delivery persons employees reclassified.

“In Kenya, COTU views the ruling by the UK Supreme Court as a case law that would have a domino effect on our gig economy. The implications of the same are that if it were to be domesticated and implemented in Kenya, it will not just affect digital taxi drivers but also workers in the same economy, including M-Pesa agents, banking agents, delivery persons among others,” says COTU Sec-Gen Francis Atwoli.

Atwoli also noted that workers in the informal sector [gig economy] contribute extensively to profits made by companies they work for, adding upto 80% of Kenya’s total workforce.

“For instance, as from April 2020, before Safaricom temporarily removed transaction costs for amounts below KSh1,000, the declared revenue that Safaricom received from Mpesa agents was about KSh85 billion while from voice KSh95 billion.How then are these hardworking Kenyans, bringing all these revenue, not Safaricom employees?” the vibrant voice of trade unions noted

SG Francis says COTU will be going to court to instruct Uber and other digital taxi companies to reclassify their Kenyan drivers as workers, and grant them a minimum wage and other applicable allowances.

Consequently, COTU will be moving to court to get to compel Safaricom to classify M-Pesa agents as workers and allow these agents to be unionised.