Uber Offers French Drivers Revenue Insurance, Avoiding Wage Law

  • French drivers unions have been protesting for better pay
  • Government appointed a mediator last year to coordinate talks

How Uber and Airbnb Bent Laws and Made Billions

Uber Technologies Inc. offered to guarantee revenue for its most financially strained French drivers, temporarily averting a new law that would force a minimum wage for all chauffeurs.

The company proposed a 21 euro ($22.50) per hour minimum gross revenue for cabbies working at least 40 hours a week, according to Jacques Rapoport, a government-appointed mediator in talks with unions. While the offer hasn’t won over drivers at this point, it’s enough to avoid new wage legislation, Rapoport said in a conference Tuesday in Paris.

"Drivers unions want higher prices and a smaller cut for Uber -- the company is absolutely not ready to satisfy those demands," Rapoport said, after weeks of negotiations came to an end. "I personally find Uber’s latest proposal satisfying. It’s up to the platforms, not chauffeurs to set their own prices and define their own commercial strategies."

France appointed a mediator last year to coordinate negotiations between Uber and drivers threatening to block the roads of Paris if they didn’t get paid more. Drivers are independent contractors, not employees, so they’re not entitled to minimum wage and other regulated items of remuneration. Whether law should be tweaked to include new business models like Uber’s is a debate that’s fueling legal disputes in countries from the U.S. to the U.K.

Rapoport said he’ll submit recommendations to the government after advising companies and unions on a potential compromise. The mediator will advise that the government set a legal minimum wage equivalent for chauffeurs only if Uber doesn’t implement promised measures.

Rapoport last week postponed the initial deadline on talks by a few days to reach an agreement after Uber said it was working on financial and technical measures to improve the profitability of its most strained drivers in France. He said then he’d recommend the state set a legal minimum for driver remuneration based on time and distance traveled, should negotiations fail.

Uber had separately pledged 2 million euros in December to help chauffeurs facing difficulties in France.

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