Platform workers: with FO, to win collective rights | Labor Force

Home meal deliverers or VTC drivers, they are called to vote, from May 9 to 16, to choose their professional representatives. For these digital platform workers, around 100,000 freelancers in France, this election is unprecedented. Recent judgments, such as the one concerning Deliveroo, show what abuses these companies are capable of in order to disguise the reality of the links they have with the workers they use. The social plan announced at Just Eat also underlines the cynicism with which these giant companies put their financial interests above all and above all before their staff, including recently recruited.

For a long time, at the national and international level, FO defends the rights of platform workers, provides them with information and advice. The organization campaigns more than anything for collective protection to be provided to these precarious people, declared independent, generally wrongly, isolated and often very young.

In Europe alone there are some 28 million, or 10 % of European workers and, according to the European Commission, there will be 43 million in 2025. They work for one or more of these five hundred companies, most of which are giants, based in Europe among other places and dedicated to passenger transport (Uber, Free Now…) or home delivery of prepared meals (Deliveroo, Uber Eats, GoDelivery, Glovo…). They are called digital platform workers, TPNs. Almost all (90 %) of them work under “ independent “. In France, they are often auto-entrepreneurs and it is to them that these unprecedented elections are aimed, from May 9 to 16, aimed at creating professional representation.

The executive and Parliament show a desire to introduce social dialogue (orders of April 21, 2021, April 7, 2022) within these companies while the debate on the “ platform regulation » is posed in France as elsewhere, in particular the link they have with the staff they call on. For FO, real social progress for these workers is that they come under wage employment or true and effective economic independence.

Inhuman management by algorithms

In France, out of some 3.1 million self-employed people, 4 % approximately are qualified as dependent on an intermediary, mainly these platforms. They are young workers (they are between 26 and 31 years old on average) and at 96 % of men living in urban areas. In Europe, 55 % of these TPNs earn less than the minimum wage in their country. In France, 42 % earn less than 10,000 euros per year. Among their difficulties, these young people cite the lack of income in the event of illness and periods of financial difficulty in the event of a drop in their activity.

According to INSEE, these precarious young people, including 61 % work atypical hours, spend an average of 38 hours per week at work (70 % work between 35 and 50 hours or more per week). To manage, evaluate and constantly monitor their work and their behavior, the platforms use artificial intelligence through algorithms that they design and which arbitrarily decide who is physically capable of going fast, who is resistant to stress, who is always available… Beyond being discriminating, this system exacerbates the link of economic and social dependence of the worker vis-à-vis the platform. Among other things, it induces numerous bodily accidents among these workers who are subtly subjected to the pressure of performance with a view to remuneration.

Last December, in a report, the Senate asked for the publication of these algorithms. After a text adopted in March concerning legislation on digital markets (DMA), the European Union adopted the Digital Services Act on April 23, a text which will apply around 2024 and which aims, among other things, to regulate the use of these algorithms. The European Commission and the Member States will have access to those of the very large online platforms. This text, which imposes constraints on the platforms, is however focused on the defense of consumers and it is far from solving everything for the shadow workers that are the TPNs.

The work of FO at European and international level

It is above all thanks to the hard work of the unions, including FO, particularly within the ILO, that the reality of this “ gig economy (economy of odd jobs, piecework) has been unveiled over the years. And if the International Labor Organization does not stop recalling international labor standards, it is not by chance. Last year, the ILO (International Labor Office) called once again to ensure that the work opportunities that the platforms offer are decent, ensure that all workers, regardless of contractual status, are covered by core labor standards. End of 2021, and it is, reminds FO, the fruit of one intensive action within the ETUC, the European Trade Union Confederation said its refusal of a third status – neither salaried nor self-employed – for these workers. It was in response to a consultation launched by the European Commission ahead of the presentation of a directive aimed at guarantee decent working conditions for all those whose income depends on this work model. The debates therefore led to another draft directive, which, if it still has to be examined by the Council and the European Parliament, is already worrying the digital giants. The text would thus set specific criteria for determining whether the platform is an employer and therefore declare a relationship of dependence and establish a presumption of employment. If the platform contests the worker’s subordinate relationship, it will be up to it to demonstrate it (reversal of the burden of proof) and not to the worker, as is currently the case in France. At the national level, the ordinance published on April 7 sets new obligations for platforms, while being on the ground of a reinforcement of autonomy and of independence workers who use these companies for their activity. In order to promote the conclusion of collective agreements in the sectorit sets, among other things, the obligation of annual negotiations on at least one of the four established topics, including that of conditions for determining the income of workers, including the price of their provision of services. The determination of professional representation to fight for agreements guaranteeing new rights to these workers will therefore be essential. FO will work in this direction.

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Platform workers: with FO, to win collective rights | Labor Force


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