Protect platform workers as well as businesses, says ETUC

Today’s proposal by the European Commission to promote fairness and transparency for users of online marketplaces is a necessary step, but totally fails to protect workers who rely on online platforms for their livelihoods.

According to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the measure falls short by limiting regulation of unfair practices to shopping platforms offering goods and services, such as Amazon or eBay, and search engines.

“This initiative should also cover individual people working via labour platforms,” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Thiébaut Weber. “It sets important limits on shopping platforms’ monopolistic trading practices, but excludes labour platforms such as Uber, Deliveroo or Amazon Mechanical Turk. It is not only SMEs and micro-traders who suffer from unfair practices. Individual workers providing labour or services through platforms are also confronted with unfair or hidden terms and conditions, the absence of any means of redress, discriminatory algorithms and are unable to negotiate for fair pay and conditions.

The ETUC finds that the lack of transparency in the platform economy, preventing workers from having a say in the way prices and working conditions are set by platforms and their algorithms, is unacceptable. The ‘imbalance in bargaining power’ leaves individuals open to discrimination, victimisation, arbitrary delisting and isolation and prevents access to personal data.

 “We are counting now on the European Parliament to improve this proposal and enlarge its scope to cover labour platforms,” said Thiébaut Weber. “Any future legislation proposed by an ‘EU observatory of the online platform economy’ must also protect the growing numbers of platform workers in Europe. By increasing its level of ambition, this could become the first worldwide initiative introducing more fairness for both working people and companies in the platform economy.”