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A judge in Seattle has handed ride-hailing companies a temporary victory, in a closely watched legal battle over whether drivers for Uber and Lyft can join a union and undertake collective bargaining.

Seattle became the first city in the United States to pass an ordinance allowing ride-share drivers to unionise, but that law has been challenged by the US Chamber of Commerce on the grounds that it conflicts with federal labour and antitrust laws.

Tuesday’s ruling grants a preliminary injunction that allows the ridesharing companies to delay handing over their drivers’ contact information to union organisers – a crucial first step in organising a union vote – until after the court case has been decided.

The case is seen by legal experts as an important barometer of whether collective bargaining rights can be applied to rideshare drivers, a shift that would upend the business models of Uber and Lyft.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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