The Alliance for Korean Platform Workers for a better tomorrow has issued a statement in solidarity with European riders participating in ‘The Great Delivery’, a 400 kilometre journey from Paris to Brussels to demand platform workers’ rights.
ON 5 November, European platform workers began to ride 400 kilometres from Paris to Brussels to deliver their demand for a strong Platform Work Directive legislation.
We, Korean platform workers, are sending a huge solidarity message of support. Our call for gig workers to be recognised as workers, not freelancers or independent contractors, is not just because their work fits the definition of employee under the labour law. Without recognising them as employees, without respecting their right to unionise and collective bargaining, we will never be able to stop the spread of low-waged precarious work, also known as ‘Uberisation’. (While Uber hasn’t yet dominated the South Korean gig economy, Korean platform workers are up against platform giants like Kakao and Coupang, who share the strategy of Uber.)
Uberisation disguises ordinary workers as freelancers. It also disguises the myth that platform companies are just intermediaries and not employers as truth. So it’s not a question of whether you meet two of the five criteria or three of the seven. Recognising gig workers as employees and holding platform companies accountable to employers, including through collective bargaining, is the only way to stop uberisation.
“Don’t let Uber make the law!” – one of the main issues the European riders of the ‘Great Delivery’ are saying, we see this as having a twofold meaning. First, last year’s ‘Uber Files’ revelations confirmed that Uber’s lobbying power is beyond imagination. With the amount of data it has collected in the course of its business and its connections to high-level politicians, Uber would have had a profound impact on the legislative process of Platform Work Directive, and it needs to be stopped.
More importantly, the second implication is that if the legislative directive proposed by the Council of the EU, led by the Swedish government (which had held the EU presidency in the first half of this year), is passed, the platform companies will be held virtually unaccountable. As a result, the terms and conditions of gig workers will be dictated by the market leader, and Uber will dictate all the rules and order of the gig economy.
“I have nothing to prove to you.” Like the famous Carol Danvers line from the movie ‘Captain Marvel’, there is nothing for gig workers to prove – platform companies should have the burden of proof. They are the ones which force gig workers to suffer shamefully low wages and terrible conditions.
Platform workers in South Korea have yet to produce legislation that aligns with the EU’s Platform Work Directive. Instead, platform workers from various industries have organised their common demands as follows:
- First, hold platform companies accountable as employers under labour laws!
- Second, guarantee platform workers’ a living wage, including minimum wage!
- Third, explain and disclose algorithms to workers and reflect their opinions!
- Fourth, provide social insurance and safety nets to platform workers without discrimination! (especially unemployment benefits and workers compensation insurance)
- Fifth, guarantee platform workers the right to work safely and right to rest!
We are confident that our demands are not different from those of the European riders who started The Great Delivery. We believe that their journey will deliver hope to all the platform workers across Europe. And not just in Europe, but for gig workers as far away as South Korea and around the world.
We promise we Korean platform workers will, all together, pave the way for a legislation that fully guarantees our basic rights as workers. On November 6, 2023, the Alliance of Korean Platform Workers for a better tomorrow (AKPW), founded in January of last year, has organised social movements to unionise Korean platform workers and make our demands implemented and legislated to fully guarantee platform workers’ rights.
AKPW is composed of Korean platform workers unions such as the Riders Union, App-Drivers Union, Webtoon Creators Union, Taxi Workers Union, Kakao Crew Union, and some of civil rights organisations such as Korean Contingent Workers’ Centre are participating.