In July last year, the South African Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled that Uber drivers in South Africa were not independent contractors but are full-time employees of the ride-sharing transport company.

Today, the Labour Court has overturned that ruling by the CCMA saying Uber drivers are not direct employees. The court found that it was incorrect for the Uber drivers to make their claims against Uber SA, the local subsidiary of Dutch company Uber BV which owns and manages the app. The drivers should have aimed their case at the international company, it stated.

While the ruling was overturned on a technical point, Van Niekerk, the judge who read the verdict stated that given the history of the case, the technicality was not only material – but one which the drivers’ previous representatives knew.

He noted that the question of whether South African Uber drivers are employees of Uber remains unanswered and chastised the transport workers union Satawu for their inattentiveness and said it was a major factor that led to the ruling.

It warrants a mention (and emphasis) that this judgment does no more than concluding that, on the facts, the drivers were not employees of Uber SA … Whether the drivers are employees of Uber BV, or whether they are independent contractors of Uber BV, is a matter that remains a decision.

The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers has taken over representation of the Uber drivers who brought the case forward and said it is weighing its options.