TokYO Kyodo Tokyo authorities on Friday ordered the operator of Uber Eats food delivery service in Japan to enter negotiations with a labor union representing its staff, agreeing that the U.S. company's unit had been engaging in unfair practices.
The union, formed in October 2019, had been pushing for the operator to negotiate contract terms and to improve working conditions, but the company had been arguing that those using the platform for work are independent contractors and should not be considered workers under Japan's labor law.
The labor commission of Tokyo acknowledged that they are part of Uber Eats' essential workforce even if they don't have employment contracts with the operator.
Uber Technologies started in Japan in 2016 with a food delivery service. The rise in numbers of people using gig economy platforms operated by tech companies like Uber Technologies or Amazon.com for work has highlighted the issue of vulnerable workers being left unprotected by labor laws as freelancers.
Experts on labor issues and vulnerable workers hope that the decision made by the Bureau of Labor Relations Commission in Tokyo will lead to better treatment of freelancers.