Union ‘first’ to be recognised by gig economy company

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has claimed it is the first union in the UK to be recognised by an organisation that uses gig workers.

Government employment regulator the Central Arbitration Committee said the union should be recognised by The Doctor’s Laboratory (TDL) for the purposes of collective bargaining. TDL carries out pathology services for the private sector and the NHS.

TDL courier and IWGB union representative Alex Marshall said it was “forced to unionise” when its concerns were being ignored by management.

“It is quite reassuring that we will now be taken more seriously and have a seat at the table to negotiate what we are rightly entitled to,” Marshall said.

IWGB recently secured full employment rights for some of the 100 couriers working for TDL, giving them access to sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, and protection against unfair dismissal.

The union was also seeking £1m in backdated holiday pay for about 50 TDL couriers.

A spokesperson for TDL told Personnel Today: “We look forward to developing a positive working relationship with the IWGB.

“We are unable to comment on the holiday pay claim as we have yet to receive any formal notification.”

Last year, TDL admitted that its couriers should be classified as workers rather than independent contractors. It had wrongly classed five people, which meant they had failed to receive rights such as the minimum wage and holiday pay.

IWGB has criticised the lack of action taken by the Government to secure more rights for gig economy workers in its Good Work plan.

In a letter to business secretary Greg Clark, the union called on the Government to introduce “proper Government enforcement of employment law” by inspecting workplaces, fining organisations that use “bogus” employment practices, and increasing the rights of those with worker status.

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB general secretary, said: “The TDL couriers have shown that organising and winning in the so-called gig economy is possible.

“Contrary to the Government’s platitudes about giving workers a stronger voice, the best way for gig economy workers to have a voice at work is to establish collective bargaining arrangements between their union and their employer.”

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