Our union’s viewpoint on the European Parliament legislative initiative on fair working conditions, rights and social protection for platform workers – new forms of employment linked to digital development (2019/2186 (INI)).
With the action plan for the European Social Rights Pillar, the European Commission has announced that by the end of 2021, it will present a legislative initiative to improve the working conditions of workers on digital platforms.
According to the EU:
- a) employees of digital platforms are private individuals performing work or providing services through a digital platform
- b) the current European legal framework does not cover new developments in this form of employment
- c) it becomes necessary to revise the regulatory framework.
We, as a union, strongly disagree with the above narrative because:
- a) those employed on digital platforms are employees with a dependent labor relationship and not self-employed individuals, freelancers, associates, partners or freelancers
- b) the proposed European legal framework falsely claims that new developments in this form of employment are not covered by the existing legislation of the Member States and seeks to create multi-level workers, with the main aim of reducing labor cost for digital mediation companies (platforms).
- c) the revision of the regulatory framework of labor relations becomes necessary for companies as it enables them to take advantage of the fragmentation of labor and legislate the transfer of labor cost to the employees.
Working on a platform is a growing phenomenon, which is facilitated by the development of digital technologies. However, we will never stop repeating that the introduction of applications (apps) in any work related to the platforms, office work, call center, warehouse, delivery, on site or online does not change the nature of the job. If we remove the digital wrapping, platforms are no different from traditional businesses. The much-touted new opportunities and choices of place, time, flexibility and frequency of work remain dependent labor. And to be perfectly precise, shredded dependent labor.
We believe that digitization (as in applications which deliver products and services) works in a disorienting manner, as a smokescreen, and does not concern the essence of work. That’s why there is no objective reason to revise the legislation at the expense of labor rights.
The fact that working on a platform (just like traditional forms of work) covers different realities and is characterized by a high degree of inhomogeneity in the activities carried out does not mean that employees are not entitled to full rights, insurance and wage.
In digital brokerage companies as in any business, in any financial sector, there are different job categories and employee profiles vary. But in any case, with the exception of the introduction of applications (apps), the characteristics of employment, the nature of [the job] remains the same.
For example, domestic helpers continue to clean, cook and take care of homes, postmen, couriers, bike and motorcycle riders continue to transport, distribute products and provide services. For us, the dependence of our work on the employer is self-evident and that is why the laws of all European countries have for decades legislated that we are entitled to work with full insurance and salary rights whether we work eight hours, four hours, morning, night, many or a few hours a week.
There is no tangible reason, logical argument or new reality that justifies the revision of the regulatory framework of labor relations, that justify the violation of labor rights. Platforms are consciously investing in part-time jobs, gig economy and small-scale employment because they invoke the non-existent legal loophole mentioned above, fragment work and bypass labor and tax laws.
And while the proposed EU legal framework seeks to convince us that platform work facilitates access to the labor market through modern forms of employment, the digital manipulation of our job choices shows the following contradiction: although platform economy workers tend to be younger and more educated than the general population, the minority of workers have relatively good incomes while the majority are low paid.
To put it as discreetly as possible, we consider the EU proposal for the inclusion of riders, and not only, in the status of the self-employed, to be wrong. For us, for the working class across Europe, around the world, new forms of employment should enjoy the same level of social security and wages as traditional forms of employment.
The EU has announced that by the end of 2021, it will present a legislative initiative to improve the terms and conditions of employees on digital platforms. But it is moving in the opposite direction. It is trying to gild the pill of our devaluation, using the art of power to deceive us.
It tries to overturn the existing legislative reality by introducing legal procedures for resolving labor disputes that do not exist. It is said that the devil is in the details. The Bible itself teaches us that in order to place an “apple” you need to possess the art of discreet bilingualism. According to the EU, in the case of legal proceedings, employees should not be considered self-employed, unless employers prove the absence of a dependent employment relationship.
The constant employer demands to reduce labor cost, to pass on health care and pension contributions on us, to create multi-level workers, are introduced through the back door as legislation to “protect” our rights and not as blatant violations of labor law.
The EU, in order to camouflage the employer attack, includes it in the “action plan for the European pillar of social rights”. And indeed, the legislators of the employers’ interests always manage to sound ideal, they almost make us feel bad when we enter the process to question their moral integrity.
As bike and motorcycle riders on digital platforms, we demand fair working conditions, which means dependent employment contracts with full insurance and salary rights. We demand insurance and pension coverage. Health care in case of accidents. We demand that algorithms for job distribution and evaluation on platforms to be transparent, non-discriminatory and subject to an ethical framework.
We demand that employees of digital platforms, such as food distribution services, have the same rights as traditional employees, access to collective representation and the right to participate in collective bargaining. We demand that fixed costs such as the use and maintenance of the bike or motorcycle, petrol, Personal Protective Equipment or mobile telephony have to be borne by the companies.
Employees of the platforms do not “incorrectly” join the self-employed. This is a conscious circumvention of our collective gains and rights by digital brokerage companies, with the consequence that the labor costs are passed on to us and that companies are exempted from employers’ contributions to the social security system.
We present our central viewpoint as a first sample of trajectory analysis, of the union’s goals for the next period, as digital mediation companies (platforms) have invaded our lives globally with the aim of reviewing labor law for their benefit.
Today, as SVEOD, faithful to the 14 years of our unmediated trade union presence, we declare that in this struggle we will be present, on the side of our class, on the side of working society.
We structure our arguments by invoking simple logic and common experience. We lock our thoughts and gaze on the struggle, on the expansion of the collective class counterattack in Europe and the world. To be led to the only reality that corresponds to the size and gravity of the history of our class. To victory.
WE ARE EMPLOYEES- WE ARE NOT PARTNERS OR ASSOCIATES
GLOBAL DELIVERY AND COURIER RIDERS STRIKE – MAY 1st 2022
PLATFORM WORK IS NOT SELF EMPLOYMENT
We fight for the impossible today in order to avoid an unthinkable tomorrow.
“Base Union for Bike and Motorcycle Workers (S.V.E.O.D) (Σ.Β.Ε.Ο.Δ)”.