The EU Wants to Fix Gig Work. Uber Has Its Own Ideas

“Our ad campaign simply puts certified facts about the company into the public domain,” said Nixon, an Uber spokesperson. “Uber supports a strong, enforceable guideline that ensures platform workers maintain the independence they want and receive the protections they deserve, like minimum wage, paid vacation and sick pay.”

The issue for Uber with the new rules is the professional classification of its Uber drivers and UberEats couriers. “Classification is the entry point into the full range of protections, from protection against unfair dismissal, to sick leave, to parental or maternity leave, to protection against discrimination,” explains Jeremias Adams-Prassl, professor of law at the University. of Oxford. “This is why we can also see the appeal of misclassifying workers. If you misclassify individuals, you can try to avoid all of these obligations.

Officials are divided on how platform workers should be classified. Many MEPs favor rules that would assume all platform workers are employees, unless the platforms can prove otherwise. But some EU member state representatives on the European Council prefer a system in which workers must first prove they meet a number of criteria before they can challenge their employment status. Indeed, member states fear that if the rules are too strict, the platforms will react by reducing their workforce, explains Ludovic Voet, confederal secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. “Some of these countries do not want to confront an economic model that could alienate people from employment statistics.” Four months after Spain introduced its rider’s lawwhich required delivery riders to be considered staff, Deliveroo completely shut down its operations in the country.

Platform workers fear that member states will struggle to enforce new rules adopted by the EU. Standing in the rain in Brussels, Peeters explains that he has worked for UberEats in the city for six years. In January, new rules came into force in Belgium, intended to make it easier for platform workers to qualify as employees. “You know what’s changed? Nothing,” says Peeters. “The price of my rent is increasing. The price I pay for food is increasing. But my [employment] the status remained the same. Nixon says Uber complies with all applicable laws wherever it operates. “In Belgium, we offer all independent drivers and couriers free cover in the event of accident, illness and paternity. »

In Spain, the “cavalier law” was criticized in some circles, for its ineffectiveness. “The largest company in the country, Glovo, has been violating this law for years and with complete impunity,” says Corredor, who worked as a Deliveroo courier in Spain between 2016 and 2017 and is now an activist for the workers group of Riders x Derechos platform. . The aim of the Spanish rider law was also to force platforms to classify more of their workers as employees. Instead, Glovo changed the working conditions of many couriers so that they could still be classified as independent, according to Corredor. “We are confident that our operating model in Spain, launched in August 2021, meets all regulatory requirements,” says Felix Eggert, spokesperson for Glovo.

For Corredor, this is all part of a larger battle, in which platform workers are fighting to defend the basic rights – minimum wage and maximum working hours – that exist in the rest of the economy. “It is [the platforms’] strategy, using the discourse of innovation and technology to make these rights disappear,” he says. “I think it’s very problematic.”

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