▷ ITF: EU directive says abusing gig workers is enough

10.12.2021 – 03:59

International Transport Workers? Federation (ITF)

LONDON AND BRUSSELS, Jan. 28 / PRNewswire /)

  • The new EU directive announced today stipulates that gig workers are treated like employees.
  • For more than five million workers, including ridesharing drivers and food deliverers, there could be a big leap in wages and working conditions if the EU puts in place rules to prevent them from being misclassified as independent contractors.
  • The legal loopholes used by platform companies to misclass workers and bypass unions are disappearing, and it is time for them to engage with unions and negotiate constructively.

Vehicle service drivers, grocery suppliers and other workers have been treated unfairly by app-based companies who shirk responsibility and cut costs by treating them as independent contractors rather than employees. This has resulted in workers being deprived of basic rights such as minimum wages, vacation or access to personal protective equipment. The misclassification also means that workers have not been able to bargain collectively.

A new EU directive announced today stipulates that gig workers will be treated like employees. The directive is widely welcomed by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) (here see the ETF press release and) affiliated unions. The unions have campaigned publicly and worked tirelessly behind the scenes at the EU and elsewhere to achieve better legal protection for platform workers. The presumption, coupled with a “reversal of the burden of proof” in disputes over employment status, is important because it should save workers from having to go to expensive legal proceedings to defend their rights.

“This directive marks a milestone in raising employment standards in the platform economy,” said ITF Secretary General Stephen Cotton. “Platform companies like Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo, Glovo and others have used too long loopholes in legislation to exploit workers.”

While we have some concerns about some of the provisions of the directive that could allow platform companies to exploit loopholes and evade responsibility for employment, we are pleased that EU regulators are catching up and following the unions’ lead on this issue.

The directive lays down solid principles for the treatment of workers and we hope it will show regulators around the world a way forward. The point of contention is now over. It is time for platform companies to work constructively with unions. Let us work together to improve working conditions in this sector. The ITF will work with any company that obeys the rules, “said Cotton.

The guideline also addresses some of the most egregious aspects of algorithmic management. People have lost their jobs due to uncontrolled software or have been forced into unsympathetic work patterns. The ITF supports the position of the directive that algorithmic management needs to be more transparent and should allow employees to challenge employment-related decisions such as deactivations to real people. Changes need to go further, however, to require formal hearings and ensure union representation in all disciplinary proceedings and protection from algorithmic discrimination and bias.

Big tech companies have fought internationally to ensure that workers continue to be misrecognized under the guise of “flexibility.” Workers’ rights groups, including the ITF, have had to take a tough stance on their legal challenges and well-funded lobbying tactics.

In California, the big tech companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to introduce a law that undermines worker protection in the US state. They tried to overturn a law that prevents workers from being misclassified as independent contractors. The unions went to court and the court declared their actions unconstitutional.

The platform companies have one similar campaign started in Massachusetts, where they plan to spend millions again to buy a bill that would support their exploitative business models. In the EU, too, they have spent a lot of money and engaged in intensive lobbying to prevent or weaken this new directive.

“It is encouraging to see the EU resisting these bullying tactics,” said Frank Moreels, President of the ETF. “But here’s what we say to the platform’s employers: it is time we stopped arguing and started to talk. Negotiate with us. Treat your employees fairly as employees and embark on a new model that can actually move your company forward. “

The unions have been campaigning for many years to end the misclassification of ride-hail drivers, grocery suppliers and other gig workers around the world. The directive now gives these workers a real right to collective bargaining as workers in the EU. The ITF will continue to support the ETF through the legislative process to ensure that we end up with a strong set of rules that protect transport workers and ensure fair competition.

“Collective bargaining is the way forward for platform workers,” said Moreels. “The directive will make this easier in the EU. But even before it comes into force in Europe and spills over to other regions of the world, workers will come together to protect their own Fight rights. We urge all gig workers to join a union because together your voices are louder and carry a lot more weight. “

It could take several years for the draft directive to pass through the European Parliament and other EU institutions before it is implemented into the national law of the member states. At this stage, law enforcement agencies in each EU country will take action against companies that illegally misclassify workers.

“The writing is on the wall. We urge platform operators to take the step long before the enforcers arrive. You have exploited your workers for too long. Now is the time to put things right, “added Moreels.

Information about the ITF:

The ITF is a democratic, member-run federation of nearly 700 transport unions. We passionately fight for the improvement of working life by bringing together unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to ensure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of 20 million women and men who move the world.

Press contact:

Luke Menzies / [email protected] / +44 (0) 7770 728 229

Original content by: International Transport Workers? Federation (ITF), transmitted by news aktuell


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