No co-determination, no social protection: platform-based work

Regardless whether Uber or Deliveroo – platform-based or gig work occurs more and more frequently in the EU. Together with ETUI and CNV from the Netherlands, EZA organised a seminar addressing the complexity and challenges of this new form of work.

Utrecht - Piet Fortuin, the President of CNV (Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond), got to the crux of the matter right at the start: “Platform workers have no social protection, no co-determination rights, no decent pay. But employers should accept their responsibility, that is still important today – even in times of digital transformation.”
That could roughly be a summary of the problem to which the EZA seminar devoted itself in conjunction with ETUI (European Trade Union Institute) and CNV.

During the two-day seminar in Utrecht, they discussed how platform-based work is defined and how workers’ organisations can reach platform workers. The focus was also on examples from individual member countries like the Netherlands, Sweden and Hungary. It was seen that the issue of platform work is handled very differently and has different effects in the respective countries.

Scientists, trade unionists and representatives of educational institutions pointed up research findings or reported on their experiences from collective bargaining or court proceedings. Agnieszka Piasna, a member of the scientific staff of ETUI, found out through her studies, for instance, that the cliché of the student delivering pizza for Deliveroo was not always the case. Especially in Central and Eastern European countries, on average gig workers were in their mid-thirties. Precarious conditions for the platform workers were the rule, though.

Martin Willems from the EZA member centre ACV/CSC (Algemeen Christelijk Vakverbond) in Belgium presented the example of “United Freelancers” – a new department in his trade union that was trying to organise gig workers.

EZA President Luc Van den Brande said: “Platform-based work is a qualitative problem. It must be handled urgently, and the world is not waiting for us to react here in Europe.” On the co-operation with ETUI he said: “EZA and ETUI complement each other. Such co-operations are important for us as workers’ organisations.”