“Our advertising campaign simply puts certified facts about the company in the public domain,” says Uber spokesperson Nixon. “Uber supports a strong, enforceable directive that ensures platform workers maintain the independence they desire and receive the protections they deserve, such as minimum wage, vacation and sick pay.”
What is at stake for Uber with the new rules is the job classification of its Uber drivers and UberEats couriers. “Classification is the entry point to the full range of protections, from protection against unfair dismissal, through sick leave, through parental or maternity leave, to protection against discrimination,” says Jeremias Adams. -Prassl, professor of law at the University. from Oxford. “That’s why you can also see the appeal of misclassifying workers. “If you misclassify people, you can try to avoid all those obligations.”
Officials are divided over how platform workers should be classified. Many MEPs favor rules that assume all platform workers are employees, unless the platforms can prove otherwise. But some representatives of EU member states, sitting in the European Council, prefer a system in which workers first have to prove they meet a series of criteria before they can challenge their employment status. This is because member states fear that if the rules are too strict, platforms will respond by reducing their workforce, says Ludovic Voet, confederal secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. “Some of these countries don’t want to deal with a business model that could take people out of the employment statistics.” Four months after Spain introduced its rider’s lawwhich required delivery couriers to be considered staff, Deliveroo completely closed its operations in the country.
Platform workers are concerned that Member States will struggle to enforce any new rules the EU approves. Standing in the rain in Brussels, Peeters explains that he has worked for UberEats in the city for the past six years. In January, new rules aimed at making it easier to classify platform workers as employees came into force in Belgium. “Do you know what has changed? Nothing,” says Peeters. “The price I pay for rent is going up. The price I pay for food is going up. But my (work) situation remains the same.” Nixon says Uber complies with all applicable laws wherever it operates. “In Belgium we offer all independent drivers and couriers free coverage for injuries, illnesses and paternity.”
In Spain, the “Riders law” has been criticized in some sectors because they are ineffective. “The largest company there, Glovo, has been violating this law for years and years with total impunity,” denounces Corredor, who worked as a Deliveroo courier in Spain between 2016 and 2017 and is now an activist with the platform workers group Riders x Rights. . The goal of the Spanish cyclist law was also to force platforms to classify more workers as employees. Instead of doing that, Glovo modified the employment terms of many of its 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 Félix Eggert, Glovo spokesperson.
For Corredor, this is all part of a larger battle, where platform workers fight for the basic rights (minimum wage and maximum work hours) that exist in the rest of the economy. “This is the strategy (of the platforms), to use the discourse of innovation and technology to appropriate these rights,” he says. “I think this is very problematic.”