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What the 'Don't Gig Up, Never!' project found

The final conference of 'Don't Gig Up, Never!', a trans-European network of research centres and trade unions on the gig economy co-ordinated by Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini, took place on Friday [8 July] in Rome, also with online participation.

The first research project, 'Don't Gig Up', was carried out from 2018 to 2020, and this second project, from 2021 to 2023, has sought to focus on what the researchers call Type 3 and Type 4 digital labour platforms. These are platforms offering 'traditional gigs', like gardening and cleaning, and 'skilled services', like translations and legal services, on platforms like Upwork and Task Rabbit (type 3), as well as micro-work (or 'clickwork') on platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk (Type 4). So this project has looked beyond the transport (Type 1) and delivery (Type 2) platforms which have tended to dominate the focus of gig economy research (and reporting).

One of the key challenges with researching these platforms is that there is very little data held on them. There are no public registers of these platforms and survey data is often lacking academic rigour and uses different methodologies from country to country. Thus, most of the findings in the 'Don't Gig Up, Never!' final report are based on analysis of specific platforms in the various countries analysed, rather than a comprehensive assessment of this part of the platform economy in Europe as a whole.

Nonetheless, it was clear from the conference and from the final report that some clear patterns are emerging. First, there is an increasingly large and diverse number of Type 3 platforms operating in Europe. Reporting on France, Odile Chagny, economist and platform work researcher at the IRES trade union research institute, told the conference that these types of platforms are "a wave that is coming" as "all planets are aligned to enable these new intermediaries to develop". The trend, she said, was towards a clear "professionalisation" of these platforms. In Spain, meanwhile, the final finds that "platforms providing for care and domestic services are growing exponentially".

Secondly, there are a wide variety of business models, from "freelancer collectives" in France to Spain, where "the state and public administration are the main investors". The three business models highlighted in Poland are indicative of the typical approach., which offers both on-location and cloud-based tasks from plumbing to legal counselling, is a subscription-type service where you pay for access to the advertisement of tasks, while the specific fees are all negotiated directly between worker and client. The second business model is the platform taking a commission on every transaction, such as, which matches publishers with advertisers, where a 15% commission is taken. Third, TaskHero, a micro-work platform, pays the worker and has free registration, receiving all of its income from the clients. 

Finally, worker organising and initiatives still "concerns almost exclusively riders and transport platforms". The lack of evidence of trade union work in Type 3 and Type 4 platforms is a problem. Nonetheless, there are important examples of organising which can be built upon, such as at Spanish cleaning platform Clintu, which we highlighted in the newsletter last week. 

The report concludes with a number of proposals, including a public repository of labour platforms, the application of the national minimum wage for work done on these platforms, an algorithmic transparency requirement on platforms, and a requirement for channels of communication to be made available by platforms for worker and trade union representation.

The 'Don't Gip Up, Never!' project has also produced seven country-by-country case studies as well as an interesting 'Model of Terms and Conditions of Service' document which is a proposal for how platforms could change their Terms & Conditions to ensure they are operating legally and with decent working conditions. It could potentially be used as a basis for comparative analysis with specific platforms or even an aid in collective bargaining negotiations.

Ben Wray, Gig Economy Project co-ordinator

Gig Economy news round-up

  • DENMARK: WOLT COURIERS ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION IF INJURED: A Danish occupational health body has found that Wolt will have to pay compensation to current and former couriers who have been injured while working. Wolt also must take out statutory workers' compensation insurance for any future accidents. The finding from AES, an independent government body, came after a two and a half year investigation due to the case of a specific rider who was refused compensation after being injured while working for Wolt. However, Wolt, which is owned by US company DoorDash, is likely to appeal the decision, as an appeal delays the effect of the ruling. In "the worst case scenario" the delay could take seven to eight years if it goes from the lowest to the highest courts, Bjørn Elling, lawyer for the union 3F, says. Couriers in Denmark are hired on an independent contractor basis, but the AES verdict found that "Wolt is an employer subject to insurance", which means they are legally required to provide a safe working environment for their riders, including the appropriate equipment. Read more here.
  • GIG WORKERS DEMAND JUSTICE FOR NAHEL MERZOUK: The International Congress of Gig Workers has called for "justice" after a police officer shot and killed Nahel Merzouk in France last week, sparking days of rioting across the country. Merzouk worked as a rider, although it is not believed he was working at the time he was shot while driving away from police officers. "What happened is police brutality and an expression of xenophobia - which is increasingly common and we gig workers suffer daily," the statement reads, going on to say "just like everyone else on the road, rideshare drivers and delivery workers can, and do, face police harassment and brutality." Another rider, Mohamed, is reported to have died during the riots in Marseille. Mohamed was 27 and worked for Uber Eats. A march took place in his honour on Thursday and the Brussels Couriers collective posted a tweet in support of the demonstration, with the hashtag '#JusticePourMohamed'. Read more here.
  • GEORGIAN OMBUDSMAN FINDS WOLT DISCRIMINATED AGAINST OUTSPOKEN COURIERS: Georgia's 'Public Defender' has ruled that Wolt has discriminated against two couriers who criticised the company and engaged in protests. The food delivery platform blocked access to their accounts following their activism. The ombudsman also found that Glovo had discriminated against its riders by sending a text message to 142 of them warning against protest activities. Wolt has been told to immediately restore the two riders' access to their accounts and "not to allow discriminatory treatment due to different opinions and/or other grounds in labour relations in the future and to ensure the implementation of the equality policy in the company". Explaining the judgement, the ombudsman stated that "the couriers working through platforms, regardless of their "partner" status, are persons in labour relationship with the company and, therefore, they have the right to enjoy guarantees based on labour legislation." The 'Public Defender' had previously made a similar resolution in the case of Glovo riders, who subsequently had their accounts restored. Read more here
  • SHEFFIELD STUART DELIVERY COURIERS WRITE TO JUST EAT OVER CHANGES: Members of the IWGB union in Sheffield who work for Stuart delivery have written to Just Eat's management urging clarity about their hiring plans. Stuart delivery has been a sub-contractor of Just Eat in many UK cities, but Stuart delivery has informed the Sheffield that from 19 July they will no longer be delivering for Just Eat, which is set to establish its own service in the city. However, the Stuart delivery riders have been left in the dark about Just Eat's plans. The letter states that "we already see ourselves as Just Eat couriers", as the Just Eat deliveries made up the "vast majority" of the work via Stuart, and that therefore they see it as "unfair" that "effectively, we're being forced to reapply for the same job on less favourable terms". The letter calls for more information from Just Eat, including a timeline of when they can start to work through the Just Eat app, that Stuart Delivery riders are given priority for Just Eat jobs, and that "the work is allocated according to free log-in, not shifts". In March, Just Eat moved away from an employee model in the UK, sacking nearly 2,000 riders on its 'Scoober' service. Read more here.
  • TURIN COURT FINDS GLOVO RIDERS ARE EMPLOYEES: The Turin Court of Appeal rejected the appeal of Glovo on Wednesday [5 July], confirming the original decision of the Court of Turin in January which found that the riders are employees. Eight riders of the Catalan-headquartered food delivery platform, which has the largest market share in Italy, had pursued a case of false self-employment, and the Turin court had found that the "riders are subordinate workers" who should have their pay calculated on the basis of working hours with paid breaks and waiting time. However, the judges rejected the riders' claims  for compensation linked to the risk of injury or death and algorithmic transparency over the assigning of tasks. Read more here.

In GEP this week

Accessing the algorithm to build union power: The case of Palermo

Piero Valmassoi interviews Fabio Pace of the NIdiL CGIL union in Palermo, which has used legal action to reveal the secrets of algorithmic management and strengthen the power of food delivery couriers.
ILO economist: ‘Platforms are not delivering the women’s empowerment they promised’

The World Bank and the World Economic Forum have promoted ‘digital entrepreneurship’ as the answer to increase female employment and tackle gender inequality, but digital labour platforms are re-producing the same problems as traditional labour markets, researchers have found.
From around the web
Delivery Charge Podcast Ep 5: A Normal Working Day

Anju John's Delivery Charge podcast is back and this episode speaks to riders about whether the work is really as 'flexible' as the platforms claim.
Judge Delays Rollout of Delivery Worker Minimum Wage Law

Claudia Irizarry Aponte reports for 'The City' on a New York judge's decision to temporarily suspend the rollout of a minimum wage for couriers in the US city, after platforms filed a lawsuit to stop the law.
Overworked and unable to quit: Delivery drivers in Brazil found something worse than gig work

Laís Martins writes for 'Rest of World' on the uses and abuses of sub-contracting by digital labour platforms, this time in Brazil. 

Upcoming events

- The first Platform Work Directive 'trilogue' between the EU Council, the Parliament and the Commission will be on 11 July. 

- A national mobilisation of Uber Eats riders organised by the NIdiL Cgil union will take place in Italy on 14 July. Click here for details.

- A solidarity vigil for Nahel Merzouk, the rider who was shot and killed by a police officer in France, will be held in London on 14 July, 6pm in front of the French embassy. Click here for details.

- Fairwork's cloud work ratings will be published at a webinar on Thursday 20 July 4-5.30pm CET. For full details and to register, click 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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