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S&Ds: Stop shady lobbying offensives by abusive digital platforms and protect workers!

Date

19 Jan 2023

Sections

Trade & Society

Today, the European Parliament will debate the revelations of the unscrupulous Uber lobbying practices – which shed light on the lobbying efforts of digital platforms in general*. This debate must serve as another opportunity to unequivocally denounce shady lobbying offensives by Uber and other digital companies. It is also a stark reminder that we must do everything in our power to prevent such practices in the future; and shield workers from abuse by giants of the web.

We have a chance to take a historic step towards this goal by joining forces behind the Parliament’s ambitious position on the landmark EU legislation on platform workers. It aims to significantly improve the social and labour rights of gig earners working for Deliveroo, Helpling, Uber, and similar platforms. At the same time, it aims to protect the genuinely self-employed and ‘good’ employers. 

Elisabetta Gualmini, S&D Vice-President and European Parliament’s rapporteur on the new EU legislation on improving conditions of gig workers:

“The Uber revelations uncovered a lobbying offensive of one digital platform; one which used all means to challenge legislative proposals that could threaten its economic model based on dubious and exploitative practices. Can we be sure that there are no more interferences and pressure like this by large digital companies? We must do everything in our power to prevent such toxic practices, and to protect workers.

“This is why we must join forces to secure the historic and balanced agreement reached last December by the Parliament’s employment committee, despite huge pressure from platforms. We must not give in to aggressive lobbying by big corporations. We must ensure correct employment classification, based on the actual working conditions and transparency of algorithms that cannot remain black boxes. Trade unions and worker representatives must be able to collectively bargain on platform working conditions. The burden of proof of the employment status must lay with the platforms.”

Agnes Jongerius, MEP and S&D spokesperson on employment and social rights, added: 

“Shocking revelations about Uber’s methods of trampling workers’ rights to drive up profits include information about the company’s efforts to influence some governments to create a third category of workers: self-employed with no rights and no freedom under the mercy of the digital platform. The company has been investing heavily in aggressive lobbying at all levels. I urge my colleagues in this house not to give in to the aggressive lobbying of digital platforms. I urge everyone to support our ambitious stance on the new legislation to shield gig workers from abuse and exploitation.

“We have been the driving force for passing EU laws to better protect gig earners. Every worker is entitled to labour and social rights: fair pay, social insurance, sick leave and engaging in collective bargaining. It is time to change the game of the gig economy and make sure this labour market model does not spread to other job sectors. Adequately protecting all workers is one of the major challenges of the digital era. Today, over 28 million people in the EU work through digital labour platforms. In 2025, this is expected to reach 43 million.”

Note to editors:

*Last July, the unprecedented leak spanning more than 5 years and 124,000 documents exposed the ethically questionable practices of Uber. Last October, the Parliament’s employment committee exchanged with the whistle-blower Mark MacGann, former Head of Public Policy at Uber, who exposed the company’s abusive business models and shady lobbying tactics designed to preserve them. Internal company documents, handed by MacGann to the Guardian newspaper, a media partner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, describe how Uber executives lobbied politicians in the EU and across the world. 

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