The Gig Economy Project is a media network for gig workers in Europe, seeking to promote efforts to transform work in the digital age.
BRAVE NEW EUROPE has always considered the Gig Economy one of the most important and contentious economic developments of our time. Bike couriers, ‘micro-taskers’, home care workers, and many more who work on-demand in the digital platform economy and have few job protections are at the sharpest edge of capitalist exploitation, but are also providing some of the most creative and powerful forms of resistance in the working class today.
Ben Wray is leading this project for BRAVE NEW EUROPE, enabling us to provide analysis, updates, ideas, and reports from all across Europe on the Gig Economy. We are keen to find out about and report on these struggles – if you know of or are involved in one in Europe, please get in touch. We are also publishing content from researchers, campaigners, and others who have an interesting perspective to offer on Gig workers in Europe.
This page will be regularly updated with new content, and if you would like to get in touch you can do so by contacting the co-ordinator of the project, Ben Wray (GEP@BraveNewEurope.com).
You can listen to all of our podcasts here.
To receive our weekly newsletter in your inbox, with all the latest news, analysis, opinion and events in the gig economy in Europe, leave your e-mail here.
To support us in our goal of “Giving a voice to the voiceless” the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust is generously providing us with funding towards a further year. Thus we can continue to develop an information network on how Gig Economy workers are organising themselves, supporting them in creating a public exposure that up to now has been denied. We also thank the Lipman-Miliband Trust for the initial grant funding which allowed us to launch the project in April 2020.
Greta Thunberg joined the strike protest in central Stockholm demanding improvements to pay and union representation.
Interview with the authors of new report “Workers’ Recommendations on the draft EU Platform Work Directive” in podcast and text form.
Gig Economy Project co-ordinator Ben Wray reports from London where freezing temperatures, snow and ice have made being a food delivery courier an even more dangerous job.
Report calls on MEPs to fast-track approval of the proposed EU Platform Work Directive in upcoming vote and for additional curbs on algorithmic abuses in the gig economy.
Czech Republic tried to include collective agreements as substitute for legal provisions in EU Platform Work Directive
Union leaders and campaigners for gig workers’ rights say attempt to introduce collective agreements as a substitute for legal provisions in the EU Directive demonstrates how bad agreements can be used by platforms to undermine workers’ rights.
The Gig Economy Project speaks to Jessica Pidoux, director of PersonalData.IO, about her critique of data in the platform economy and how gig workers can use data tools to build workers’ power (in podcast and text form).
Can workers access their data and use it to build their power? The Gig Economy Project looks at a fascinating case study from Geneva, Switzerland, to find out.
Copenhagen food delivery courier Rasmus Emil Hjorth claims his account was terminated at Wolt for trade union organising.
Anne Dufresne, Bruno Bauraind – The new “taxi plan” in Brussels: Towards an Uberisation of the sector?
Anne Dufresne and Bruno Bauraind, researchers at GRESEA, find that the new “Taxi Plan” for Brussels, which came into effect on 21 October and is aimed at resolving continual conflict between Uber and taxis since 2014, will merely intensify the conflict and take it onto an interregional footing, while deepening the Uberisation of both private hire drivers and taxis.
Piero Valmassoi, a policy expert specialised in the platform economy and sustainable urban mobility, reports from the European Parliament on Uber whistleblower Mark MacGann’s hearing, finding that his revelations will not count for much if the platform lobby continues to win the legislative battle.
The full statement of ‘Uber Files’ whistleblower Mark MacGann to the Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) of the European Parliament today [25 October].
A new study takes an in-depth look at the platform lobby in Brussels in wake of the Uber Files scandal, finding they are more deeply entrenched than ever.
Wolt denies claim that it offered a bike cargo full of soda instead of a wage rise when striking riders came to their office in Copenhagen.
Unions organise 24-hour strike after death of a Glovo rider in Florence, who was automatically fired by the company almost 24 hours after the fatal accident.
Archie Mellor from the IWGB couriers’ branch in the UK and Rasmus Emil Hjorth from the Wolt Workers’ Group in Denmark make the case for food delivery couriers sharing their experiences with one another across borders, after a meeting of British and Danish riders in September to discuss vehicle theft and what to do about it.
Fine is four times larger than previous sanctions for ‘false self-employment’ breaches by the company, and is unlikely to be the last.
Private hire platform makes claim about Catalan politicians’ passenger data in advert against new regulation
Cabify’s advertising campaign against the Decree Law raises concerns about how platform-controlled data can be a “danger to democracy”, according to Leïla Chaibi MEP.
A veteran of the gig economy, Anuar Shabban has worked for multiple platforms in Brussels, including Deliveroo for the past six years. He tells the Gig Economy Project about the trials and tribulations of a precarious work life.
Wolt Workers’ Group courier Rasmus Emil Hjorth speaks to the Gig Economy Project about how their campaign has revealed a larger problem with working conditions in football.
Sweden’s election, the Nordic model and the gig economy – interview w/ GigWatch’s Felix Söderberg & Jacob Lundberg
With elections forthcoming, Söderberg and Lundberg explain that the Swedish model of industrial relations is being used as an excuse not to regulate the gig economy in Sweden. Available to read and to listen as a podcast.
Rasmus Emil Hjorth, Danish rank-and-file Wolt courier in the Wolt Workers’ Group, reports from Berlin, where he has been helping the Lieferando Workers’ Collective as the couriers elect their first Works’ Council
Uber Eats move back to a self-employed model puts the credibility of the Rider’s Law at risk.
The Gig Economy Project speaks to Paris Marx, host of the Tech Won’t Save Us podcast and author of new book ‘Road to Nowhere: What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong about the Future of Transportation’, about the Uber Files and why the company’s vision for transforming transport for the greater good has not come to fruition. This interview is available as a podcast and in text form.
As Uber drivers in the ADCU union strike in wake of Uber Files revelations, the General Secretary calls for whistleblower Mark MacGann to answer their questions at a public hearing: “The drivers deserve a first-hand account now”.
A spontaneous strike of taxi drivers across Italy following the Uber Files revelations has stopped after the Italian Prime Minister offered his resignation, one of the key demands of the drivers who are opposed to a Bill backed by Draghi which could liberalise the sector.
Piero Valmassoi: We should worry about what Uber is doing to influence the EU platform work directive
Piero Valmassoi, an EU policy expert specialised in the platform economy and sustainable urban mobility, takes a look into Uber and the other ridehail and food delivery platforms’ lobbying strategy over the EU platform work directive, finding we should be as worried about Uber’s actions in the present as those in the past
The Gig Economy Project rounds up some of the key reaction to the Uber Files from unions, politicians, NGOs and others.
The Gig Economy Project looks at the key revelations from the Uber Files, a massive leak of of internal documents from the US ridehail giant uncovering the company’s true face
Catalan Government’s new law to regulate private hire platforms effectively restricts them to limousines and passenger vans.
‘Life is a game’: Laura Carrer and Luca Quagliato discuss making a film on being a rider in the city
Laura Carrer and Luca Quagliato speak to the Gig Economy Project about their upcoming film on the reality of being a rider in the city (interview available as a podcast and in text form).
James Farrar, ADCU General Secretary, tells the Gig Economy Project that Uber has “burned their drivers” by leaving them “exposed to inflation”.
‘Swipe to Finish: How Amazon exploits its drivers to subsidise your deliveries’, by ‘White Van Man’, is a memoir about the experience of being a self-employed delivery driver for Amazon in the UK. In this article exclusively for the Gig Economy Project, ‘White Van Man’ explains the key themes of Swipe to Finish and what inspired him to write the book.
What’s distinctive about Germany’s platform economy? How are platform workers in the country organising themselves to fight for better working conditions? The Gig Economy Project spoke to Oğuz Alyanak, Fair Work researcher in Berlin, to find out. Interview available as a podcast and in text.
Ben Wray, the Gig Economy Project’s co-ordinator, recently travelled to Berlin to find out about the vibrant grassroots movement of gig workers in the city, organised via worker collectives. Here’s what he found.
The Gig Economy Project has spoken to current and former employees at Gorillas, the grocery delivery platform, in Berlin. They tell a story of systemic problems at the company which are causing serious issues for its workers on the frontline and intensifying conflict within the firm.
Carlos Rodríguez Expósito, Vanessa Millán Buitrago: In defence of taxis and public services in Madrid
Carlos Rodríguez Expósito y Vanessa Millán Buitrago: Por la defensa del Taxi y de los servicios públicos de Madrid
Carlos Rodríguez Expósito, responsable de Proyecto Taxi en Madrid, y Vanessa Millán Buitrago, teniente de alcalde, concejala de Transición Ecológica y portavoz de Podemos en Rivas Vaciamadrid, escriben para el ‘Gig Economy Project’ contra la reforma de la ley de transporte de ayer en la Comunidad de Madrid, que favorece a las plataformas de alquiler privado como Uber y Bolt en detrimento del taxi. Expósito y Buitrago dicen que es posible una forma alternativa de gobernar en la capital española.
Piero Valmassoi, an EU policy expert specialised in the platform economy, gig work and sustainable urban mobility, reports for the Gig Economy Project on The Employment and Social affairs Committee (EMPL) of the European Parliament, which discussed the Directive on Thursday [19 May] with interventions from the European Commission, trade union and platform lobby representatives.
Anton Ekker is the lawyer for British Uber and Ola Cab drivers who, via the Worker Info Exchange, are pursuing their data rights at work at an appeal court in Amsterdam on 18 May. Before the trial, Ekker spoke to the Gig Economy Project about the legal fight for workers’ data rights.
GMB agreement includes collective bargaining over pay, but IWGB union says the GMB – which has no background in organising food delivery couriers – “prevents no threat” to Deliveroo’s “exploitative business practices”.
A private hire platform lobby event in Brussels saw sharp divides within the centre-right EPP Group, and heard fears from platforms over a new attempt to push the Directive further to the left.
Carlos Rodríguez, administrador de la comunidad de la Asociación Elite Taxi de Barcelona y vicepresidente del ‘Taxi Project 2.0’, dice que la última maniobra de la Comunidad de Madrid para proteger los intereses de las plataformas de VTC será a costa de los ciudadanos y del medio ambiente, así como del taxi, y debe ser detenida.
Carlos Rodríguez, community manager at Elite Taxi Association Barcelona and vice-president of the Taxi Project 2.0, says the Community of Madrid’s latest manoeuvre to protect the interests of ridehail platforms will be at the expense of citizens and the environment, as well as the taxi, and must be stopped.
The easing of the pandemic combined with the cost of living crisis is testing the sustainability of food and grocery delivery platforms
The first criminal trial of a food delivery platform in France delivered a historic judgement.
Laura Carrer: “A system for the desperate” – How Uber Italy worked with intermediary firms to exploit riders
Journalist Laura Carrer examines a Milan trial of Uber Italy and two intermediary companies which revealed the “double level of exploitation and subjugation” that a hired group of riders were subjected to in the Italian city.
The new domestic workers section of the LAB union in the Basque Country is a first, and the union told the Gig Economy Project that they are “attentive” to the growth of digital labour platforms seeking to ‘Uberise’ the sector
Stuart Delivery couriers in eight towns and cities in the north of England remain on strike after their pay was slashed in December
Belfast couriers from Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat join forces in a Northern Irish first to demand a minimum income guarantee.
For private hire drivers and food delivery couriers in the gig economy who have to pay for the costs of their own vehicle, surging fuel prices are pushing them to the brink. The Gig Economy Project speaks to a British and a French gig worker respectively to find out just how bad the situation is on-the-ground.
Riders’ Rights Concern Group: Why Europeans should care about the struggle of FoodPanda couriers in Hong Kong
The Riders’ Rights Concern Group, a labour group dedicated to food delivery workers’ rights in Hong Kong, writes for The Gig Economy Project about the FoodPanda dispute in HK, and what it says about the power imbalances within global platform capitalism.
Gorillas rated 2/10 and Amazon Flex 3/10, while Lieferando and Wolt receive 7/10.
CGT: “What the Post Office is trying to do through Stuart Delivery is to impose a new social model on the whole group”
Survey finds that there are 12 million platform workers in the EU, 3 million of which do platform work as their main source of income.
Elité Taxi faces the potential of a crippling fine from the Catalan Competition Authority, after Uber complained of anti-competitive conduct including “acts of boycott, aggressive and denigrating practices”.
IWGB couriers question mayor of Hackney’s argument that there was no link between an immigration raid targeting couriers in East London and the couriers’ protest for a safe waiting area which took place just two days previously.
‘We are still fighting against Macron, only now at the European level’: Interview with Edouard Bernasse of the Collective of Autonomous Platform Delivery Workers (CLAP)
The Gig Economy Project speaks to Edouard Bernasse of the Collective of Autonomous Platform Delivery Workers (CLAP) about the gig economy in France, Macron’s new platform worker ‘social dialogue’ law and much more.
‘Nous nous battons toujours contre Macron, seulement maintenant au niveau européen’ : Entretien avec Edouard Bernasse du Collectif des Livreurs Autonomes de Plateformes
Le Gig Economy Project s’entretient avec Edouard Bernasse du Collectif des livreurs autonomes de plateformes (CLAP) au sujet de la gig economy en France, de la nouvelle loi de Macron sur le “dialogue social” des travailleurs de plateformes et bien plus encore.
The European Union is elaborating a new law on the status of Uber, Deliveroo and other platform workers. The EU Council position, coordinated by France, is likely to diminish their labour rights and lock them into a self-employed (as opposed to employee) status, argues Lora Verheecke.
ETUC analysis finds food delivery companies Deliveroo and Glovo meet all five of the EU Commission criteria for their workers to be considered employees, but Deliveroo describe the analysis as “incorrect and misleading”.
The Gig Economy Project speaks to Sheffield Stuart Delivery striker Khalil Lange and IWGB branch secretary Jake Thomas about the longest strike in the history of the UK’s gig economy
Pay strike ran for 18 days in December, with pickets re-starting outside McDonald’s restaurants on 10 January.
Agreement is the first of its kind in Spain, and includes 30 days of holiday leave, a maximum working day and health & safety protections, but does not extend to Just Eat’s sub-contractors
Strike is into its ninth day and has spread to Chesterfield and Sunderland.
Worker Info Exchange was set up in 2019 as a digital rights NGO dedicated to research and advocacy of digital rights for workers and their trade unions.
Reaction from unions, academics, platforms and more to the EU Commission’s platform work directive.
Directive, once passed, will be the most significant regulatory change to the platform economy in Europe so far.
Uber had sought to undermine a key part of the UK Supreme Court ruling in February, which found that the company’s drivers were workers.
Ministers from Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy apply pressure onto EU Commission a week before the platform work directive legislation is to be announced.
Seventy-six riders participated in a new in-depth study on working conditions in the food delivery sector in the UK.
Carlos Rodríguez, community manager at Elite Taxi Association Barcelona and vice-president of the Taxi Project 2.0, summarises a report by Taxi Project on the violation of the rights of consumers using the apps of ridehail platforms Uber and Cabify, finding that the two companies breach numerous fundamental rights of the consumer.
Carlos Rodríguez, administrador de la comunidad de la Asociación Elite Taxi de Barcelona y vicepresidente del ‘Taxi Project 2.0’, resume un informe de Taxi Project sobre la violación de los derechos de los consumidores que utilizan las apps de las plataformas de ridehail Uber y Cabify, constatando que ambas empresas vulneran numerosos derechos fundamentales del consumidor.
Riders and unions complain that the cost of bike purchase and repair takes a significant chunk out of take-home pay.
Martin Willems tells the Gig Economy Project that the trade union movement needs to take organising the self-employed seriously.
Nuria Soto of the ‘RidersXDerechos’ movement tells the Gig Economy Project that the Riders Law has its problems but has created an easier “basis for struggle”.
“Somos aquello que las empresas no quieren que exista”: Entrevista con Nuria Soto de RidersXDerechos
Nuria Soto, del movimiento ‘RidersXDerechos’, dice al Gig Economy Project que la Ley Riders tiene sus problemas pero ha creado una “base para la lucha” más fácil.
The Gig Economy Project speaks to the European Trade Union Confederation’s Secretary Ludovic Voet about the EU Commission’s platform work directive, trade union organising in the gig economy, and whether the present moment is one for a revival of trade unionism in Europe.
Digital labour rights conference hears doubts that EU Commission platform work directive will go far enough
Report from the European Trade Union Institute’s conference on the digital transition and labour rights in Brussels, which heard arguments for the European Commission to avoid a “narrow” law on platform work and instead embrace an “anticipatory perspective”.
Global conference of platform workers in Brussels tells EU Commission: ‘We demand to be recognised as employees’
Message from platform workers’ representing 57 organisations in 18 countries was clear: full employment status, regulation of the algorithms, and build the international strength of the movement.
Brussels-based Anne Dufresne, co-author of new book “App Workers United – The Struggle for Rights in the Gig Economy”, tells the Gig Economy Project that the EU Commission’s track record of ‘deconstructing the social rights of member-states’, means we should expect the worst when it comes to their platform work directive in December.
Uber says it wants to lead Europe’s zero-carbon transition in the transport sector, but it’s record is a company that has massively contributed to the pollution of cities.
In this podcast, the Gig Economy Project speaks to the leader of Élite Taxi Barcelona, Alberto ‘Tito’ Álvarez, about how the union has been so effective in keeping Uber out of the Catalan capital
En este podcast, el Gig Economy Project habla con el líder de Élite Taxi Barcelona, Alberto ‘Tito’ Álvarez, sobre cómo el sindicato ha sido tan eficaz para mantener a Uber fuera de la capital catalana
Layoffs of 350 riders in Berlin come after wild cat strikes, which took place over June and July, re-started last weekend
At the first ever global forum on democratising work a range of views were heard on routes to democratising the gig economy
New strike action against Uber, this time Britain
RIDE-HAIL giant Uber were hit by two mobilisations from drivers in north and south Europe on Tuesday [28 September], as UK Uber drivers demanded better conditions of employment, while in Barcelona taxi drivers resisted Uber’s legally questionable presence in the Catalan capital.
Major strike and consumer boycott has not only halted E-Food’s plans to stop employing the riders, it has strengthened the security of the riders’ contracts
Strike comes after thousands of customers deleted E-Food’s app in protest at plan to force all riders to become independent contractors
Overwhelming vote of MEPs in favour of a legal presumption of employment in the platform sector is non-binding, but it applies pressure on to the European Commission to deliver
Researchers Boig and Popan show in this video how women and migrants suffer particular forms of exploitation and oppression as platform ‘riders’
Juliet Schor: New research finds transition to employment status for platform workers does not affect flexibility
Gig economy author and scholar Juliet Schor presented new research which refutes a key claim of platform companies: that an employment relationship and flexibility for the worker are incompatible.
Delivery workers for online retailer are hired as ‘independent contractors’ via a subcontractor, and are routinely earning under the legal minimum wage.
After ignoring the union’s demands for a week and operating a failed bid to break the strike, Glovo has come to the negotiating table
EU Commission and platform worker regulation: 10 meetings with platform companies, none with unions or workers
In a Gig Economy Project exclusive, we reveal the lobbying influence of digital labour platforms over the Commission’s plans for regulating platform work
Carmen Juares has been leading CCOO’s organising of a historic 9-day strike of Glovo riders in Barcelona. Speaking to the Gig Economy Project, Juares says that the big unions “need to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and innovate” to successfully organise in the gig economy.
Carmen Juares ha liderado la organización por parte de CCOO de la histórica huelga de 9 días de los riders de Glovo en Barcelona. En una entrevista con The Gig Economy Project, Jaures afirma que los grandes sindicatos “tienen que estar dispuestos a salir de su zona de confort e innovar” para organizarse con éxito en la economía gig.
First official strike in the app-based food delivery sector in Spain begins, with five Glovo ‘dark supermarkets’ in Barcelona said to be “paralysed” by the action
Bama Athreya finds that the decision of a Californian judge to over-turn the anti-worker Prop 22 vote in California is testament to the perseverance of union organisers refusing to give in to corporate power.
How has the pandemic changed the gig economy? The Gig Economy Project spoke to Fair Work researcher Kelle Howson to find out. This interview is available as a podcast and text.
Carlos Díaz and Lucía Aliagas from trade union CCOO Catalunya takes a look at Spain’s biggest food delivery company, Glovo, arguing that the company has a mission of “pure economic extraction” and is willing to confront the state through direct insubordination to achieve its aims. If they win, the impact on the working class as a whole will be dramatic.
Riders in Barcelona have responded to Spanish food delivery company Glovo’s new competitive pay system for deliveries with four consecutive days of protest, taking their message directly to the company’s headquarters in the city on16 August.
The Riders Law comes into force in Spain today [12 August], with a great deal of confusion about the exact situation for app-based food delivery workers now, as digital platforms refuse to hire all riders directly despite the Law. The Gig Economy Project talks you through what you need to know.
The problem of riders having no space to wash and use the toilet affects women in particular, and has been raised with the digital platform companies but with little to no action taken
Capital flight and legislative sabotage – Deliveroo and Glovo refuse to play ball with the Riders Act in Spain
With the Riders Act set to come into force on 12 August in Spain, gig platforms Deliveroo and Glovo are refusing to accept the law of the land: that they have to employ their riders.
A new research project led by Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini (FGB), a not-for-profit specialising in labour policy, will seek to compare a set of digital labour platforms in the areas of cleaning, repair services and micro-tasks. In this piece, FGB explain the project’s plan and objective.
As drivers and riders protest at Uber’s London HQ to demand an end to unfair app terminations, The Gig Economy Project spoke to Abiodun Ogunyemi and Brian Forwood about their experience of being de-activated from Uber and losing their livelihoods over night.
The Gig Economy Project spoke to Zeynep Karlıdağ, rider at food delivery company Gorillas and member of the Gorillas’ Workers Collective, about their wave of wildcat strikes and warehouse blockades in Berlin.
A webinar exploring ‘what does it means to have an algorithm as your manager?’ has heard calls for a new EU Directive specifically aimed at employment protections and rights from the increasingly pervasive role of Artificial Intelligence and data algorithms at work.
Our Gig Economy Project has received funding towards a further year from the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust
We are pleased to announce that we have received an £8,000 grant fund from the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust towards continuing the Gig Economy Project for another 12 months. We thank AWRT for their belief in and commitment to the project.
The lack of contractual rules governing platform workers could actually be an advantage for organised gig workers, who are increasingly relying on maximum disruption of the capital accumulation process.
Agreement is the first time digital platform workers in Spain have been included in a broader collective bargaining agreement, and could be a model to follow across the State after the passing of the ‘Riders Law’
Uber seeks to claw back costs from accepting worker status for UK drivers by increasing its commission paid by its longest-serving drivers
Gig workers are finding innovative and effective ways of applying pressure directly onto platform companies and building workers’ power.
Bolt drivers demand worker status, an end to unfair dismissals and an extra £2 per mile in 24 hour strike
Robert Ovetz explores Prop 22 in California and recent attempts to strike deals between gig companies and unions in New York and Seattle, arguing that strategies which prioritise lobbying & advocacy over the self-activity and organisation of gig workers are doomed to fail over the long-term.
Online gig workers in the global south receive lower pay and less work due to discrimination from clients largely based in the global north, with no legal recourse, a new study of Cloudwork platforms has found.
When platforms co-opt gig workers to their cause: Understanding Spain’s anti-labour movement of riders
Podcast with José Domingo Roselló of the the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT)
Britain: Grassroots unions question the value for drivers in GMB’s formal recognition agreement with Uber
The UK union GMB has signed a formal recognition agreement with ride-hail giant Uber, in what is a global first for the company, but grassroots unions which represent Uber drivers have questioned what exactly the union has won for the workers.
A study by the Fair Work Foundation which rates platform giants against a check-list of fair work standards has found that Ola, Bolt and Amazon Flex met none of the fair work requirements, achieving a score of zero.
Uber’s complaint to the competition authority of intimidation and collective boycott comes after two months of failing to re-launch the ride-hail app in the Catalan capital
The Riders Law in Spain is a European first, but unions are unhappy that delays to its implementation is giving food delivery platforms “plenty of time to ‘disconnect’ everyone they want
A burgeoning literature is seeking to understand 21st century capitalism from the perspective of work, the working class and class struggle. This ‘workerism’ tradition, historically associated with Italian marxism in the 1960s, starts from the workplace to identify where workers have power and how they can maximise it.
Despite the global recession and pandemic, there are signs that a workers’ movement in the digital platform economy is developing. To mark International Workers’ Day, Ben Wray looks at key developments in platform worker struggles over the past year and what lessons they hold.
Even before the crisis of the pandemic, food delivery companies have seen their profits skyrocket while their so-called “self-employed” workers suffer rights violations and were banned from unionising.
Gig Economy Project co-ordinator Ben Wray finds evidence across Europe that sub-contracting is digital platforms’ plan B to continue reaping the rewards of low-paid, precarious labour.
A court in Amsterdam has ordered Uber, the ride-hail platform, to re-instate six drivers and pay compensation, on the basis that they were wrongly fired because the decision was made automatically by the company’s algorithm.
Deliveroo riders across the UK began striking 7 April, demanding a real living wage, safety protections and workers’ rights.
This is the first time that workers have influenced the IPO of a platform economy company, also thanks to the Uber judgement at the British Supreme Court.
Alex Foti reports from Italy’s riders strike on Friday [March 26], which saw delivery workers refuse to respond to the app across the country in a major show of union power.
Following the taxi protest on Thursday [18 March] against Uber’s return to Barcelona (read more here), it has been revealed that the global ride-hail platform has not been operating in the city since it officially re-launched its app in the Catalan capital on Tuesday.
Tras la protesta de los taxistas el jueves [18 de marzo] contra el regreso de Uber a Barcelona (leer más aquí), se ha revelado que la plataforma global de viajes compartidos no ha operado en la ciudad desde que relanzó oficialmente su aplicación en la capital catalana el martes.
Uber is back in the Catalan capital after being pushed out in 2019, but Barcelona’s taxi leader says “there will be war and it will not stop” if they don’t leave again.
Uber change in policy is a first and could have international shock waves, but the company still fell short of full compliance with the UK Supreme Court ruling last month.
Spain’s ‘Riders Law’ is finally agreed after the ‘social dialogue’ process between unions, employers and the government yielded an agreement, but neither all riders nor all digital platforms are happy with the outcome.
Deliveroo’s pandemic profiteering has set the company up well for its IPO, which will make the CEO Will Shu hundreds of millions – but the problem of the company’s hyper-exploited gig workers is not going away.
On Friday the 18th of February, the UK Supreme Court announced its judgement on the case Uber V Aslam, rejecting Uber’s appeal and declaring that two of its drivers, Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar must be classified as workers. This was the end of 5 years of legal challenges, with Uber taking their appeal to the highest court in the country.
In the UK, Uber is acting like it is business as usual following its Supreme Court defeat last week but is under increasing pressure to comply, while in Italy a public prosecutor has hit gig companies with a huge €700 million fine.
Uber is doing some massive lobbying in Brussels (they spent 200 million dollars to block the labour law in California declaring Uber drivers employees) and they have loads of money for the EU Snouts in the Troughs in Brussels. App workers may have limited funds, but they have the will to win this fight.
The legal verdicts against Uber and for workers are mounting up across Europe. Its business model may not be able to survive this.
A video from labournet.tv of a protest in Berlin of Lieferando and Wolt riders on 11 February, 2021. The protest included members of FAU Berlin and ‘RidersUnite!
Lis Gaibar examines a new study on the health risks of being a rider, and whether the planned ‘Rider Law’ of the Spanish Government will improve the situation.
The France Insoumise MEP, who sits on the European Parliament’s ‘committee on employment and social affairs’, published a draft proposal for a Directive on the regulation of platform workers across Europe on behalf of The Left Group in November.
The EU is moving towards a regulation of the Gig Economy. Lobbyists in Brussels are spending fast and heavy. What is on the table up to now?
The Gig Economy Project spoke to Alex Marshall, new President of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and former delivery courier, in the first Gig Economy Project podcast.
Report on latest of 41 court verdicts against false self-employment of riders in Spain, and update on divisions over the Spanish Government’s so-called ‘Riders Law’.
A Bologna court has ruled that a ranking-based algorithm used by food delivery platform Deliveroo is in breach of labour rights, in a verdict that has been hailed as an “epoch-making turning point” by an Italian union leader.
As 2020 draws to a close, Brave New Europe has received €2,000 in bridge-funding from the German Foundation Menschenwürde und Arbeitswelt (Human dignity and the world of work), which allows us to continue the work of The Gig Economy Project until Spring 2021.
The Workers’ Observatory – Does traditional Union Organising Work in Food Delivery?: The McAlevey Method on Wheels
The wheel does not have to be constantly re-invented, although there is always room for technical improvements.
Inspired by the 19th century observatory that sits atop a hill in Scotland’s capital city (pictured below), workers in Edinburgh have launched a Workers Observatory so they can undertake their own inquiries into data-driven platforms and digital work regimes in a city that is determined to become the ‘Data Capital of Europe’.
Annemarie Kern and Valentin Niebler: The YouTubers Union – A Novel Case of Platform Worker Organising
In September 2020, Annemarie Kern, a student assistant at Humboldt University Berlin, and Valentin Niebler, a sociologist at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, published “Organising YouTube. A novel case of platform worker organising” for the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung Institute. Writing for the Gig Economy Project, Kern and Niebler summarise the findings of their research.
Back to the reality of EU neo-liberalism, whose motto is “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. The regional government in Madrid is only implementing EU policy.
Volviendo a la realidad del neoliberalismo de la UE, cuyo lema es “Nunca dejes que una buena crisis se desperdicie”. El gobierno regional de Madrid sólo está aplicando la política de la UE
Proposition 22 in California makes Trump seem an avid democrat. This was plutocracy in action.
ADCU – App Drivers & Couriers Union files ground-breaking legal challenge against Uber’s dismissal of drivers by algorithm in the UK and Portugal
In a landmark legal case, former Uber drivers asks courts in the Netherlands to over-rule the algorithm that fired them
Ali Brahim’s union has made a name for itself through direct action mobilisations blocking Uber logistic centres across France, and organising drivers to deactivate from the app on mass.
Le syndicat français qui bloque les centres logistiques de l’Uber – Entretien avec Ben Ali Brahim de l’INV
Le syndicat d’Ali Brahim s’est fait connaître par des mobilisations d’action directe bloquant les centres logistiques d’Uber dans toute la France, et organisant les chauffeurs pour qu’ils désactivent en masse l’application.
Report on the key take-aways from a recent international conference on decent work in the platform economy.
The pioneering Danish collective agreement on platform-based domestic workers has been vitiated by a misguided ruling by its competition authority.
“Care” may be the word of 2020, alongside “coronavirus” and “lockdown”.
App-based delivery workers from 12 countries around the world announced a global day of action for 8 October, and explained how they were suffering in the context of the pandemic.
Gig Economy: Uber and Lyft are spending $181 Million to push through a Referendum in which their Survival is at Stake
Two Gig Economy platforms are preparing a referendum in California aimed at defending their status as non-employers
Com a resposta a la llei californiana AB5 que reconeix la relació laboral dels treballadors d’Uber, les companyies de plataformes han engegat una ILP per tombar-la. Es dirimeix en referèndum les condicions laborals de desenes de milers de treballadors
Uber y Lyft gastan 181 millones de dólares para impulsar un referéndum en el que se juegan su supervivencia
Las empresas de plataforma dedicadas al transporte basado en apps presentaron una iniciativa legislativa referendaria que tendrá lugar en paralelo al voto a las elecciones a la presidencia de los EE UU del día 3 de noviembre de 2020
In an important court verdict for gig economy workers, Spain’s Supreme Court has ruled that ‘riders’ at Glovo, the Spanish delivery platform, are employees of the company, not self-employed. The company has responded by implying that they will not immediately comply with the verdict of the court. Writing for The Gig Economy Project, Carlos Rodríguez, community manager at Elite Taxi Association Barcelona, says companies must be forced to abide by the laws.
The Gig Economy Project analyses ground-breaking research on the impact of lockdown on the financial security, health and mental well-being of gig economy workers in France.
Bama Athreya – Advancing Decent Work in the Platform Economy – 23 September International Conference
Bama Athreya, Economic Inequality Fellow at the Open Society Foundations and producer of The Gig Podcast, introduces an international conference to be held on Wednesday 23 September which will look at international strategies for decent work in the platform economy. The Gig Economy Project will be participating in the event.
This newest labour law may well once again be blocked by the Spanish Social Democrats.
Journalist Laura Olías tells the stories of Javier, Carolina and Luis, platform workers who have suffered different types of exploitation at the hands of Facebook, Amazon and Uber respectively.
WORK is one of the areas of life that has been most obviously and profoundly re-shaped by the pandemic. We have experienced an unprecedented global experiment in working from home, one that employers are treating as a “living laboratory for a permanent – and highly profitable – no-touch future,” as Naomi Klein has argued.
Cycle courier cooperatives are turning technology on the gig economy giants.
The changing face of the gig economy
The Spanish right-wing Popular Party (PP), notorious for its corruption, now runs the regional and city council of Madrid. They are using their new-found power to liberalise the taxi sector in the Spanish capital. Unsurprisingly, the links between senior figures of the PP in Madrid and digital platforms Uber and Cabify run deep, Carlos Rodríguez of Taxi Project 2.0 explains.
El Partido Popular, conocido por su corrupción, ahora dirige los gobiernos regional y municipal en Madrid. Este está utilizando su nuevo poder para liberalizar el sector del taxi en la capital española. Como era de esperar, los vínculos entre las figuras principales del PP en Madrid y las plataformas digitales Uber y Cabify son profundas, explica Carlos Rodríguez de Taxi Project 2.0.
A ‘Complete Reversal’: European Parliament Recommends Equal Rights for Platform Workers in New EU Employment Guidelines
The EU Parliament’s new recommendations on employment protection guidelines are a “complete reversal” of the positions “that have dominated the European institutions for years”, according to its architect. However, the vote is not binding on European institutions. The Gig Economy Project takes a look at the resolution and what it could mean.
Although the Spanish Social Democrats have reneged on their promise to revoke neo-liberal labour laws introduced by the Right, workers and unions in the Basque Country organise to increase workers’ rights.
Following the first Global Workers’ Conference on 24-25 June of the Transnational Workers’ Network (TWN), Carlos Rodríguez Expósito of Taxi Project 2.0 gives his view of the strategy that can be pursued by the network in moving forward.
Después de la primera Conferencia de Trabajadores Globales del 24-25 de junio de la Red de Trabajadores Transnacionales (TWN), Carlos Rodríguez Expósito del Proyecto Taxi 2.0 da su opinión sobre la estrategia que puede seguir la red para avanzar.
The platform giants are organised transnationally, so platform workers need to organise at that level too. The Gig Economy Project previews an important new initiative to co-ordinate platform workers internationally.
The Gig Economy is the exploitation system of the future. That is why corporations are fighting unionisation so vehemently, so that they do not ruin the business model.
The Gig Economy Project looks at how work is changing in Europe three months into the Covid-19 crisis, finding that the combination of corporate lobbyists exploiting the crisis and the growing dominance of the digital sector is accelerating pre-Covid trends towards precariousness.
Carlos Rodríguez Expósito – A Taxi Driver, a Corrupt Spanish Political Class, and International Finance
To understand Coronavirus crisis in Spain, it is essential to understand its history of endemic corruption, in this case of public services, that is driven by politicians guided by Spain’s large financial interests (banks and vulture funds).
The Taxi Project 2.0 has announced a court action today, making a claim to the Spanish Public Prosecutor office that Uber had defrauded the Treasury, in the latest offensive by the Taxi workers’ movement in Spain against the platform giant. The Gig Economy Project reports.
Corona Crisis: ‘We have to fight for our lives while we’re still trying to save other people’s lives’: Interview with UK medical courier Alex Marshall
There’s few more daunting jobs in a pandemic than to be a medical courier. Handling Coronavirus specimens while riding a bike around central London is not fun and games. Medical couriers at The Doctors Laboratory [TDL], a fast growing private healthcare firm in the UK, have been experiencing this on a daily basis for two months, but now they have a new threat to deal with.
The company is looking to make ten of its medical couriers redundant, a cut that is strongly suspected to be motivated by a desire to break the trade union. Alex Marshall, chair of the Industrial Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) Couriers & Logistics Branch, is one of those couriers that has been at the centre of union organising at TDL, and is up for the chop under the muted plans. The IWGB have called a strike ballot among TDL members over the threat to jobs.
The Gig Economy Project spoke to Marshall about TDL, the planned strike and what it has been like to work as a medical courier in London during the Covid-19 crisis.
Alex Foti on May Days past and present.
French trade unions have won a legal action against Amazon over health & safety at work during Covid-19. Ben Wray spoke to Stéphane Enjalran, National Secretary of the Solidaires trade union, which led the court action, about the significance of the court ruling.
In early 2014 taxi drivers in Barcelona rebelled against the unbridled growth of Uber, the online ride service. In six years they have turned that fight into a general offensive against “platform capitalism” in the EU. Alberto Alvarez explains the vehemence.
A principios de 2014, nace en Barcelona un movimiento de taxistas inconformistas. Cansados de que las administraciones y sindicatos del taxi no hicieran nada, y poco a poco se fueron sumando más taxistas.
Ekona Collective, Taxi Project 2.0 – Platforms, Workers’ Organisation, and Covid-19: lessons from Spain
The dynamics of platform economies, how workers are seeking to organise in this new form of capitalist organisation, and how they have responded to the Covid-19 crisis
Until the lockdown shut most of us behind our four walls, a new distinct feature of the European urban environment had become apparent to all. The gig economy couriers. Riders buzzing round street corners with Deliveroo back-packs on and Uber bumper stickers on cars, they have become an emblem of an age of precarious, app-driven work.