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Platform Work Directive machinations

The EU Platform Work Directive is at a critical stage, where the crucial details of the text are being fought over, before an EU Council vote which had been scheduled for 8 December. There are also machinations ongoing at the European Parliament, which must also vote on its position. It is not a transparent process - no minutes are published of EU Council meetings and the real horse-trading will take place informally. We rely on journalists and activists with sources in the Brussels machine to get a picture of what's going on. Here's what we can tell you. 

The EU Council is divided. We already knew that after an October open letter by eight EU Labour ministers saying they weren't happy with the direction of travel under the Czech Presidency of the EU Council, which has moved the Directive closer to what the platform lobby wants. These eight are just short of a "blocking minority" needed in the EU Council, according to Euractiv, but there could yet be movement from states, with Italy now under the leadership of the far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, while Germany, who did not join the block of eight, are currently on the fence due to disputes over the issue within its coalition government. 

A meeting of 'Coreper', the body which prepares the work for the EU Council meetings, took place this week and appears to have been a win for those opposed to the Czech Presidency's watering down of the Directive. Théo Bourgery-Gonse, journalist at Euractiv, reports that after Coreper's rejection of the current draft text, the "Czech Presidency is now expected to share a new draft next week, following complaints by Member States that [the] compromise as it stands is below the current legal status quo".

The last part of that sentence should have alarm bells ringing - the Directive could end up being worse than useless. Indeed, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) tweeted in reference to the Coreper meeting that it was "a good sign that the [Czech Presidency] cannot persuade a majority of  Member States to worsen working conditions in platforms". So it looks like there will be no vote on 8 December in the EU Council, as the machinations continue.

Meanwhile, in the European Parliament, a completely different text pushed by the European Parliament's Social Democrat Rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini that would strengthen the EU Commission's draft Directive proposal will be voted on at the European Parliament Employment Committee on 12 December, pushed back from the original date of 30 November. The right-wing of the European People's Party (EPP), the centre-right grouping, has been pushing hard against the Gualmini text, which has already been watered down to appease critics among MEPs, but the current draft retains the support of the EPP's employment committee chair Dennis Radtke. Divisions often generate delay in Brussels.

Expect more compromises to be made on all sides. The "informal trilogue" (see image above) will seek to negotiate a common position between the Council and the Parliament before, and if necessary after, official positions are taken by each body, and then one collective text has to be ratified by both bodies. If this seems like a bit of a labyrinth and very distant from platform workers, that's because it is. While the platform lobby knows exactly when and how to apply pressure throughout this process, and has the resources to do it, platform workers are reliant on MEPs they can trust and institutions like the ETUC to defend their interests in this process. The Gig Economy Project will do our best to follow and keep you updated on the inevitable twists and turns to come.

Ben Wray, Gig Economy Project co-ordinator

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Gig Economy news round-up

  • EU COMMISSION WON'T STOP NEELIE KROES FROM LOBBYING IN COMMISSION BUILDINGS: The European Commission has responded to a letter from Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the corporate lobbying watchdog, stating that they will not be taking action to limit the access of Neelie Kroes', the former EU Commission vice-president who was exposed in the Uber Files to have breached EU lobbying rules, to EU Commission buildings. Former EU commissioners have access to Commission buildings, which CEO has argued "poses a severe risk of undue lobbying". The Uber Files shows Kroes lobbied a Dutch Government minister “to force regulator and police to back off” during the 18-month 'cooling-off period' which all former EU Commissioners have to go through before lobbying on behalf of companies. Kroes applied for special permission to join Uber's advisory board during the cooling-off period but was knocked back. The Uber Files also showed that Uber executives were concerned about the extent of their relationship with Kroes being revealed, with one e-mail stating: “Her name should never figure on a document.” An investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) into Kroes' lobbying is currently ongoing. Read more here.
  • DPD DRIVER FOUND DEAD AFTER 'WORKING 14-HOUR SHIFTS, 7 DAYS A WEEK': A self-employed driver for the parcel delivery firm DPD was found dead at the steering wheel of his van at DPD premises, with colleagues stating that he had been working 14-hour shifts for 7 days a week, under pressure from management in the run-up to 'Black Friday'. Warren Norton, who was in his 40s and leaves behind a 14-year old daughter, was found by colleagues on the morning of 23 November. An unnamed colleague said: “Warren has been working all the hours under the sun recently to deliver as many parcels as he could. The managers try to coax you into working more days and longer hours because they know we’re self-employed. The warehouse floor must be cleared of parcels at all costs.” The DPD denied that Norton had been under pressure to work long hours, stating that he was "working on average 5 days a week for DPD and the hours he worked were well within the legal limits." Read more here.
  • BASQUE PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS GLOVO: The parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community, a region within Spain, has passed a motion condemning the Spanish delivery platform Glovo for "fleeing from its responsibility towards workers" and has called on the Labour Inspectorate to step up its efforts to "correct the regularisation of the contractual situation of workers in the delivery sector". Among other proposals passed, the Basque Parliament will also help to promote co-operative delivery platform alternatives to Glovo. The company, owned by German multi-national Delivery Hero, is the largest food delivery platform in Spain and has refused to employ its riders, despite the passing of the 'Rider Law' in the Spanish Parliament which established a legal presumption of employment in the sector. The initiative for the motion came from EH Bildu, the left nationalist coalition in the Basque Parliament, and was supported by the Basque coalition Government, led by Basque nationalist party PNV and the centre-left PSE-EE, and was also supported by left party Podemos. Sáez de Egilaz, EH Bildu member of the Basque Parliament, said the "absolute majority" in the Parliament would push the institutions to crack down harder on Glovo. Read more here.
  • RIDERS CONDEMN DELAY IN MAJOR GLOVO TRIAL IN MADRID: Former and current riders for Glovo have condemned a delay in the trial of the company in Madrid affecting 3,300 delivery people, saying the legal process is now set to take more than five years. The trial is now set to take place in November 2023, after the judge in the Social Court No.32 agreed to delay the trial due to lack of documentation, on the request of Glovo. The Spanish food delivery firm has lost well over 50 trials in Spain over false-self employment, each time having to pay social security contributions and back-pay to the workers. The Labour Inspectorate conducted the investigation into the company in 2018, with the campaign group RidersXDerechos stating: "More than 3,300 distributors will be waiting for five years for the judicial resolution. We call this justice?"  Fernando García, a member of RidersXDerechos and rider with Glovo, said "“this procedure is judging the exact same company, the same period of time and the same model that the Supreme Court already judged and resolved in its 2020 ruling, with which neither more documentation nor more witnesses are needed." Read more here.
  • SWEDISH UBER DRIVERS PROTEST AT UBER HQ IN STOCKHOLM: Uber drivers protested outside the company's Swedish headquarters in Stockholm on Wednesday [23 November], demanding higher pay and better working conditions. Around 20 drivers gathered at the HQ,  with one, Vikrant Singh, telling 'Aftonbladet' that "in order to support myself and my family, I have to work 13 hours a day, sometimes 14 hours, and I work at least six days a week. I don't even remember the last time I had a weekend off". Another, John van Dinther from Taxi Unionen, which represents Uber and Bolt drivers, said: "There are thousands of drivers who can testify that they are almost never heard. The only way for us to communicate with them is via email and then we get standard, computerised responses." An Uber employee met the drivers and said they would pass on their letter of complaint "to the person in charge". The workers also went to the office of Bolt on the same day, and were invited in for a meeting with the company. Members of the ADCU union in the UK, which represents Uber drivers, travelled to Sweden to support their colleagues' action and they held a meeting to hear about the British union's organising efforts with about 50 drivers in attendance. Read more here

On GEP this week


Anne Dufresne, activist for gig workers’ rights and member of the GRESEA research group, gives a critical perspective on Uber’s recognition agreement with Belgian union UBT-FGTB, the first such agreement in the EU.
From around the web
The contradictions of Uber: it criticizes that with the 'rider' law it lost 80% of its distributors in favour of Glovo, but at the same time disconnected 3,000 workers

Lucas Alcalde looks in-depth at Uber Eats' shift from a subcontractor to a self-employed regime in Business Insider Spain (in Spanish).
We need to make Amazon pay

Not strictly the gig economy (except Amazon flex drivers), but the international Amazon strike on Black Friday was hugely significant.
Fairwork Podcast - 001: An incomplete prediction

The first of Fairwork's new series of podcasts on gig work in the cloud.

Upcoming events

-The Platform Labor Project and the Global Digital Cultures Initiative are holding a hybrid international conference on 'Global Perspectives on platforms, labour and social re-production', at the University of Amsterdam, 27-28 June 2023. Details here

Know of upcoming events we should be highlighting? Let us know at

Get Involved

The Gig Economy Project is a media network for gig workers and we welcome contributions from workers, writers, academics, activists - anyone who wants to stand up for workers' rights in the gig economy.

If you would like to write for the site, discuss arranging an interview with GEP, or simply have information about developments in the gig economy in Europe you think we should be aware of, get in touch. 

Contact project co-ordinator Ben Wray at or send a direct message to the Twitter: @project_gig.

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