800 days later, Member States Slam Door Shut on Platform Work Directive

16 Feb 2024

After years of advocacy and over two years of negotiations by EU institutions, the members states have failed to approve a provisional agreement that would have given better protection for platform workers.

The failure of member states has dashed hopes that an EU directive would help end bogus self-employment and give platform workers employment contracts. The aim of the directive to improve the working conditions of platform workers by correct employment classification has failed. Millions of precarious platform workers with little or no rights will remain at the mercy of unscrupulous platforms.

A number of countries, most notably France, continually rejected the Spanish and Belgium Presidency attempts to strike a deal. This was even after a number of difficult concessions and movements away from first provisional deal (Dec. 12) by the European Parliament. The reasons for rejection changed constantly, a clear indication of negotiating in bad faith.

The well-funded and highly politically connected platform lobby has used its influence in Brussels and in member states to stop any form of regulation at the EU level. The Uberfiles scandal showed the lengths platforms will go to avoid any regulation in order to increase market share with the long term goal of becoming monopolies.

Platform companies in recent months have been increasing their share of platform workers pay as they strive to become profitable in the wake of the end of cheap venture capital money and low interest rates. This has driven pay, already below member states minimum wages, to poverty levels. A number of drivers and riders have coordinated strike action to highlight this situation.

Platform workers and our unions will continue to fight their case for employment in national courts. This directive would have at very least put a presumption of employment in place at national level guided by facts including performance, control and direction, and the use of automated monitoring and decision making. It would also have reversed the burden of proof and ensure that the directive would only improve the status quo. It would have also given greater recognition to trade unions.

Without any EU regulation, the multi-national platforms will continue to have a carte blanche. It is now up to member states to regulate at member state level. Our unions must continue the fight to get recognized as employees through the courts. This has been at great personal and financial cost to both platform workers and unions. What is clear is that labour inspectorates need to apply existing laws that define the employment relationship and ensure that platform workers are correctly classified as employees. The recent case in Portugal of an Uber Eats rider being recognized as an employee based on law introduced in 2023 along with others gives some hope to the future.