Dhaka, Bangladesh
UK top court makes landmark ruling on 'gig economy' plumber

UK top court makes landmark ruling on 'gig economy' plumber

LONDON, June 13: Britain's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a plumber employed in the so-called gig economy had "worker" status in a landmark case that could have major implications for the booming sector, report AFP. The country's highest court decided unanimously that Gary Smith was a "worker" for Pimlico Plumbers for nearly six years from 2005, even though his contract described him as a "self-employed operative". "Although the contract did provide him with elements of operational and financial independence, Mr Smith's services to the company's customers were marketed through the company," said judge Nicholas Wilson, in rejecting the appeal by Pimlico Plumbers. The ruling allows Smith to pursue a claim of unfair dismissal after he suffered a heart attack, and opens up the whole gig economy to claims by those on flexible contracts that they should also receive benefits afforded to those with worker status, including annual leave. The case follows a similar ruling in November, when an employment tribunal said that drivers for US ride-hailing company Uber were workers, not self-employed. Uber is appealing the ruling, with the case now likely to go to the Court of Appeal. Smith argues that he was unfairly dismissed after trying to reduce his hours following a 2011 heart attack, but Pimlico Plumbers responded that he was self-employed, therefore had no right to make a claim. A lower court earlier ruled that Smith was a worker because he was required to use the firm's van and was obliged to do a minimum number of hours a week, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court. Pimlico Plumbers chief executive Charlie Mullins called the decision "terrible". "They had an opportunity to rectify our out-of-date employment rights and they bottled it," he said outside court. "The case is not over. I will be talking to my lawyers about where we go from here. It was a terrible decision." Hongshi-Shivam Cement Private Limited, a Nepal-China joint venture, started trial cement production in Nepal starting from Friday, a director of the company said. Satish Kumar More, a director of the company, told Xinhua on Sunday that they planned to start commercial production after completing trial production for a week. On Friday, a ceremony was held at the project site in southwestern Nawalparasi district. Once in full operation, it will be the largest cement factory to date in Nepal, with production capacity of 6,000 tonnes a day. China’s Hongshi Cement is investing 359.18 million U.S. dollars as per the Project Investment Agreement signed with the Investment Board Nepal. The Chinese company has 70 percent stake in the company. More said that once the factory starts commercial production, it would fulfill the need for quality cement for various infrastructure projects and cement needs of individual households. “We are using diesel plant for power needed to operate the factory initially,” said More. Beside diesel plant, the company is also set to produce electricity from the wastage within a month. Nepal Electricity Authority, the state-owned sole power utility body, has promised to complete the transmission line connecting the factory within the next 14 months, according to company.

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