Digital Platforms and Workers’ Rights


This week’s European Headlines focuses on recent developments involving platform workers’ rights and the “gig economy” following the launch of a consultation on the rights of platform workers by the Commission on Wednesday. We take a look at reporting in Malta, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. 
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Taxi-ing Defeat for Uber


Times of Malta reports on the recent UK Supreme Court ruling on Uber workers’ rights. The Supreme Court reiterated the decision of three previous courts, stating that Uber drivers should be considered as normal workers who are entitled to minimum wage, holidays, and social protection. This battle has been continuing for the last four years, as Uber claimed that drivers are self-employed since they do not have a fixed schedule and have the freedom to find passengers through competitor apps. However, after the ruling, Jamie Heywood, manager of Uber in Northern and Eastern Europe said that Uber will respect this decision and will try to deliver the changes the drivers expect. The ruling could have far-reaching consequences for the gig economy generally. It can affect other online platforms that propose a short-term contract, such as Deliveroo.

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Food Feud


Cinco Días reports that Europe is now the frontline of the battle over workers rights and the gig economy as rules tighten in countries such as Spain and the UK and eat into profits of giants such as Uber. In Spain, Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz wishes to establish a law that forces food delivery companies to hire their couriers instead of acting as intermediaries. In the coming months, the European Commission will make recommendations on legislation related to the gig economy which would serve as a model for the entire EU.

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Don’t take-away our rights! 


Diário de Notícias reports that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) argued that countries should work to guarantee collective bargaining rights to workers on digital platforms such as Uber and Glovo. While countries such as Ireland and Spain ensure freedom of trade union to gig workers, in Portugal there is ambiguity over access to collective bargaining for these workers. While the Union of Road and Transport workers (STRUP) is in daily contact with drivers who work for platforms Uber and Freenow, the situation for other gig workers outside transport remains unclear. In the individual passenger transport sector there is only one collective agreement for taxis to date that STRUP argues is outdated.

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Algorithm Schism


Wired Italy reports that the working rights of delivery couriers on gig platforms have once more been put in question. One year ago, the Italian Supreme Court delivered a judgement stating that riders of Foodora should be considered as employees, rather than as self-employed and should have the right to workers’ benefits.  This year, the Milan Public Prosecutor confronted Uber Eats, Just Eat, Deliveroo and Glovo.  It was found out that these applications use algorithms for performance evaluation which determine the time slots for riders. This means that a rider’s autonomy is largely reduced by these companies and thus they should be considered as employees rather than self-employed. The Public Prosecutor argues that the situation is alarming, as the algorithm obliges the riders to accept all orders and deliver food as quickly as possible. The case ended with the imposition of a €733 million fine on these apps. Similar laws were adopted in France, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.

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