Gig economy news & analysis
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 
Website | Twitter | Email: | Subscribe to the newsletter

Platform work directive in retreat

Euractiv has published two articles this week (here and here) which strongly indicate that the EU Platform Work Directive is in retreat.

As a reminder, the European Commission published a draft Directive in December last year which has to be agreed by both the European Council (the heads of member-states) and the European Parliament before it becomes law. Both bodies go through their own legislative processes for devising amendments to the initial proposal before having to agree collectively on a final text. The Euractiv articles suggest that in both the European Council and the European Parliament, there are strong moves towards watering down the Commission's initial proposal.

First, the Czech Presidency of the European Council, which began in July, has proposed a reform of the text of the Directive which would raise the threshold for a platform worker to be legally presumed to be an employee from two to three criteria. In the Commission's proposal, two out of five criteria had to be met for the legal presumption to be triggered. The "compromise proposal", which includes a raft of other changes to the text which will all be seen favourably by the digital platforms, will be discussed by the EU Council on Monday [17 October]. 

Second, the "hawks" in the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament are pushing to weaken further the amendments proposed by Social Democrat rapporteur Elisabetta Gualmini. The Rapporteur's proposals would have seen the Directive strengthened by moving the specific criteria for triggering the presumption of employment into the recitals, rather than the main body, of the text, meaning there would be a general presumption of employment which would be harder for platforms to legally dodge.

Gualmini's amendments had already been watered down after a compromise was struck with EPP chair Dennis Radtke which included EPP wording in the text that there would be no automatic reclassification of platform workers. But the hawks in the EPP, which are close to the platform lobby, think Radtke isn't favourable enough to Uber and co, and are seeking to form an "alternative majority" in the Parliament that would include the liberals of the Renew Europe group and the more right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists groups. A vote on the amendments in the Employment Committee has been pushed back from late October to late November.

Leïla Chaibi MEP (pictured), who leads the work of the Left in the European Parliament group on platform work, said the manoeuvres on the right of the parliament were a worrying sign: "This directive was initially created to protect workers; it might soon be protecting platforms.”

All of this comes as the US Government's labour department announced plans to introduce a "multifactor reality test" to determine whether gig workers are employees or not. The change would make "misclassification" of platform workers as independence contractors harder, said Labour Secretary Marty Walsh. Shares in Uber, Lyft and Doordash fell 10, 12 and 6 per cent respectively on Tuesday [11 October] after the announcement was made, but the proposals won't be finalised until next year, after the mid-term elections, and will be bitterly contested by the Republicans. The proposal was also criticised from the left by Veena Dubal, law professor at the University of California and an expert on the gig economy, who said it leaves "a lot of wiggle room” for the platforms.

“This is kind of like the middle-of-the-road-back-to-how-things-were proposed rule,” she added, referring to the fact that under Donald Trump's presidency the law was changed to make it even easier for platforms to hire workers on a self-employed basis.

"Middle-of-the-road" and "a lot of wriggle room" are probably good descriptions for the direction of travel for the EU Platform Work Directive. The powerful platform lobby in Brussels has clearly done its work. Platform workers on both sides of the Atlantic would be wise not to pin their hopes for a secure and sustainable future on legislation from on high.

Ben Wray, Gig Economy Project co-ordinator

Gig Economy news round-up

  • GETIR IN TALKS TO BUY GORILLAS: Turkish grocery delivery company Getir is in advanced talks to buy one of its key rivals, Gorillas. The German 'Q-commerce' firm was the fastest ever European company to reach a valuation of €1 billion last year, reaching 'Unicorn' status just a year after it launched in May 2020, and had a €3 billion valuation as late as October 2021. Now, according to the FT, shareholders are expected to receive just €100 million plus a 12% stake in the firm which is created out of the prospective takeover. Gorillas' 'growth-before-profits' strategy collapsed as investment dried up with rising interest rates and the cost of living crisis reduced demand for ultra-fast grocery delivery. The company has also repeatedly faced scandals relating to its treatment of its workers, with wildcat strikes taking place last year leading to the mass firing of hundreds of riders in Berlin. If the takeover goes ahead, Getir - which also sacked 14% of its global staff in May in a cost-cutting measure - will be cemented as the leader of a market which is rapidly consolidating, with Getir buying UK firm Weezy last year and Gorillas buying French firm Frichti earlier this year. Read more here.
  • UBER FILES WHISTLEBLOWER THREATENS TO CANCEL EU PARLIAMENT HEARING: Mark MacGann, Uber's former chief lobbyist in Europe who blew the whistle on the company in July, is threatening to pull out of a hearing at the European Parliament after he was booked to speak alongside Uber director of EU Public Policy Zuzana Púčiková. The decision to put Púčiková on the same stage has led to criticism from Jennifer Gibson, Legal Director of the Signals Network, an NGO specialising in supporting whistleblowers, who wrote in a letter to the EU Parliament's Employment committee chair, Dragos Pîslaru, that such a move would would "force Mr. MacGann to share a public platform with the organisation [Uber] at the core of his revelations", which would “expose him to additional, unnecessary trauma and send a troubling signal that the European Parliament does not in fact value or protect whistle-blowers.” Initially, MacGann - who released thousands of internal documents and messages to The Guardian in a scandal that was called 'the Uber Files' - was to be given a keynote speech at the 25 October hearing, but the new plan would have him given equal time (7 minutes) as Púčiková and three others. Green MEP Kim van Sparrentak slammed the new panel as "unacceptable", while Bodgan Deleanu, Pîslaru’s chief of staff, said they "fully respect the rights of whistleblowers" and are "doing everything we can to accommodate for Mark MacGann’s demands". A final decision on the hearing programme will be made on Monday [17 October]. Read more here.
  • BERLIN GORILLAS WORKS' COUNCIL TO HOLD ELECTIONS IN EACH WAREHOUSE: The Berlin Works' Council in Gorillas has announced that it will hold elections in all of the grocery delivery company's 'dark stores' in a bid to ensure full worker representation in the company. The city-wide Works' Council was established at the end of 2021 after an attempt to block it in the courts failed, but the body's Election Council has said that the company's decision to subsequently introduce a franchise model mean that "Gorillas was able to deny the Council most of their usual rights and powers". Works' Council's are part of German industrial relations law, and can be established by a workforce to ensure official representation in all levels of a company. The Election Council said that the elections in each warehouse in the German capital would mean that "if the company wishes to be considered as 20 companies, then it must have 20 bodies of representation". The Works' Council has been leading attempts to save jobs in recent months as Gorillas seeks to make widespread cutbacks due to its dire financial situation, and the Works' Council said that establishing "another structure" will help "protect the rights of Gorillas workers". Read more here.
  • FRENCH UNION SAYS 20-30% OF UBER DRIVERS CAN'T ACCESS PETROL: The INV union, which organises Uber drivers in France, has said it estimates 20-30% of Uber drivers in the country are unable to work currently due to the oil refinery strikes, which have drastically reduced access at petrol stations. The union is calling on private hire drivers to get priority access at petrol stations so that they can continue to work. Uber drivers in France are self-employed, meaning they receive no income when they cannot work. Some drivers have taken to refusing long distance trips to save on petrol, while others refuse to go beyond five kilometres and stay at strategic points, such as airports, to maximise income relative to fuel use. The strikes are expected to go on until next week, as efforts by the French Government to broker a deal between unions and Total Energies have so far failed to end the industrial action. Read more here.
  • CABIFY TRIPLES INVESTMENT IN ITS LOGISTICS ARM: Cabify, the Spanish private hire platform, has announced an increased commitment to Cabify Logistics, a section of the company set-up last year to dip its toe into logistics delivery which is now being consolidated by a tripling of the initial investment. Cabify Logistics stores and transfers objects through its electric vans, putting itself into competition with companies like Amazon and Correos. The company says its logistics arm grew 2.5 times from January to June of this year, and expects to end the year growing five times more than in 2021. The €20 million of new investment will be used to expand the size of the team and enhance the technology. Cabify, which has led a controversial marketing campaign in Catalunya against the regional government's Decree Law limiting the number of private hire cars, is the third largest private hire platform in the Southern European country, but is increasingly seeking to branch out, including into postal delivery. Read more here.
In GEP this week

Wolt denies claim that it offered a bike cargo full of soda instead of a wage rise when striking riders came to their office in Copenhagen.
From around the web
Platforms for the people

Ben Jacob, co-founder of food delivery co-op Wings, writes in Tribune on the fault lines in digital platform capitalism and what the alternatives might be.
Delivery riders are striking all over the place

Polly Smythe, Novara Media's labour correspondent, looks at a rash of strikes breaking out in food delivery in the UK.
Self-employed workers and imposed acquiescence to working conditions: rethinking the scope of labour rights

European Trade Union Institute researcher Silvia Rainone finds that a model of 'imposed acquiescence' would address weaknesses in the current scope of labour rights.

Upcoming events

- On 25 October Uber whistleblower Mark McGann will give evidence to the European Parliament on Social Affairs.

- Wage Indicator will host a webinar on 'Women in Gig Work' on 27 October. For details and to register, 
click here.

- A one-day symposium will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 31 October titled 'Re-imagining Platforms'. For details and to register, click here

Know of more 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.

And if you like the Gig Economy Project weekly newsletter, why not send the link to subscribe to a friend or colleague?

You received this email because you subscribed to our list. You can unsubscribe at any time.

BRAVE NEW EUROPE (Unincorporated Not-For-Profit Association)
68 Boileau Road
SW13 9BP
United Kingdom
Powered by EmailOctopus