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Changing the game of the gig economy by ending modern-day slavery for platform workers

Date

07 Dec 2021

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

Tomorrow, the Commission is set to adopt a proposal on improving the working conditions in platform work, acting on a European Parliament own-initiative report adopted on September 16, 2021. The Socialists and Democrats Group have been the driving force to enshrine a rebuttable assumption of an employment relationship in EU law. This means platform workers are in principle employees with all applicable rights in terms of pay, income taxes, social protection and health and safety protection, unionisation and collective bargaining. If the platform companies disagree, it must be up to them to prove that they are dealing with real and not fake self-employed workers. One in 10 Europeans have already worked in the platform economy, which in 2019 had a turn-over of €44 billion globally. Six million workers earn more than half their income through platform work.

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson on employment, said:

“It is good news the Commission is finally proposing new EU laws to better protect platform workers. Uber, Deliveroo, Helpling, Amazon and co deliberately misclassify their workers as self-employed to deny them decent working conditions and social rights. Their business model allows some of the richest companies on the planet to reap the benefits and outsource their risks onto the workers and society. We want to empower platform workers and their unions. The solution is simple: platform workers must automatically be considered employees with all applicable rights. It is all about guaranteeing platform workers the rights they deserve such as fair pay, social insurance and sick leave.  Like all other workers, platform workers must also be entitled to organise and engage in collective bargaining. 

“We also expect the Commission to address the issue of algorithms acting as managers, a phenomenon we should prevent from spreading to other sectors of the economy. Having algorithms as managers comes with a range of problems, not least the stress, health and safety risks caused by the constant control, the automatic assignment of tasks and the pressure to work against the clock. We call for the black box to be opened on how tasks are assigned and prices are set, and to ensure this can be checked by unions as well as labour, health and safety authorities. We want human oversight and responsibility. An algorithm firing workers is simply not acceptable. Workers must be able to hold their manager accountable when working conditions change. To ensure a level playing field, we must treat platform companies like all other companies. Platform workers deserve decent and fair working conditions.

"It's time to change the game of the gig economy by ending this form of modern-day slavery and making sure this does not spread to other job sectors."

Pedro Marques, S&D MEP and vice-president for social Europe, said:

“It is so convenient: with one click on our smartphones we can order food or a ride. But the apps neatly hide the real story of the platform workers, who are too often deprived of fair wages, denied social insurance, refused paid leave and decent working conditions. While the digital revolution is turning our world upside down, changing the way we work, produce, consume and live, we must ensure that workers are not the ones paying the price by sacrificing their hard-won rights.

“Platform companies have lobbied extensively and fiercely to kill this new EU law to better protect platform workers before it was even published. We will be watching carefully to see that this proposal is not watered down in the months to come and, once adopted, is applied word by word by platform companies. How we protect some of the most vulnerable people in today’s economy will shape tomorrow’s societies. Technological progress must translate into social progress for all.”

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