Uber operates a ‘brilliant and thorough’ system for controlling its drivers, the Employment Court has heard. Rebecca Macfie reports.

Uber’s relationship with its 6000-or so New Zealand drivers is one of servility, intense control and oppressive provisions, the court heard in final submissions in a major case seeking to have drivers declared employees of the global rideshare company.

The company’s claims that it had no control over drivers were “fictional”, Chief Judge Christina Inglis heard last week. The idea that it was merely a facilitator and match-maker for drivers and passengers was “bogus”. Its written terms of engagement with drivers were “difficult and obscure” even for experienced lawyers; indeed, the company’s own witnesses in the case didn’t appear to understand the terms, said lawyer Peter Cranney, appearing for First Union and E tū, the plaintiffs in the case.

Uber’s business model had the intention and consequence of excluding and limiting drivers’ entitlement to statutory protections and minimum employment standards, he argued in closing statements to the court.