Transport unions for fair platform work

8 Jun 2022

As one of the fastest growing business models, most common in delivery and ride hailing in transport, platform work took centre stage at a dedicated session at ETF’s 6th Congress.

Through sharing of experiences, trade unionists illustrated platform work is a breeding ground for precarious work. The main issue stems from online platforms denying their roles as employers. They don’t pay social security contributions or taxes and classify their workers as “self-employed”, leaving them without a social security net. Workers have found themselves in lengthy and costly court cases to prove their employment status.

For the past few years, ETF with its unions has been working towards making platform work fair by curbing this business model based on false self-employment. Unions have been at the forefront of the fight by mobilising to: organise workers, accompany them in their fight for recognition of employment status in the courts and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with platform companies.

ETF’s session on platform work chaired by Stefan Thryoke of ver.di, gathered panellists Isabel Páez, Swedish Transport Workers Union; Karsten John Kristensen, 3f; Conor Farrell, ETF Policy Officer for Urban Public Transport.

Unanimously, trade unionists confirmed that the issues workers are facing are not isolated – all over Europe, platform workers have been confronted with the same problems. For this reason, a European-wide strategy was unanimously championed by sharing of good practices and campaigning for strong rules beyond EU borders.

ETF’s Conor Farrell also gave an update on the European Commission’s attempt to curb unsavoury practices with their Platform Work Directive which could help classify platform workers as employees and improve their working conditions.

The ETF stresses the importance of a general presumption of employment to ensure all platform workers are recognised as employees and that the burden of proof of employment must be on employers, not workers. Given that there is still a long legislative procedure for the Directive to go through before its adopted with a possibility of negative changes, trade union mobilisation is key.

The ETF will continue its fight for platform work on all fronts, together with unions.

Future actions include meeting with policy makers to put forward our shared position with the ETUC on Fair Platform Work, and joint trade union action is planned for October.

To follow ETF’s initiatives, stay tuned on our dedicated page, and check out our various resources: Platform Work Poster and Fair Platform Work Manifesto