We have seen some impressive actions by gig workers over the past year, but perhaps nothing quite as impressive as the E-Food riders strike and #Cancel_EFood campaign in Greece over the past 10 days. Read our full report here.
The dispute began with E-Food, the largest food delivery platform in Greece and owned by German multi-national Delivery Hero, sending a text to their riders to say: “we would like to suggest and appreciate that it would be better to work as a freelancer, otherwise there is no possibility of renewing the existing contract”. The text went viral on social media and #Cancel_EFood took off, with thousands of customers de-activating the app and the company's Google rating dropping from 4.5 to 1 star. The company responded by stating the text was "incorrect wording", and that the riders would have the choice between 'self-employed' and continuing on 3-month fixed contracts.
The response from the public gave the riders confidence to push harder, with unions announcing a 4-hour stoppage on Wednesday and a 24-hour strike on Friday. The Wednesday strike saw between 1000-1500 E-Food riders and drivers take to the streets of Athens (as well as at least five other Greek cities), in what local media reported as "the largest ever [mobilisation] in the history of the industry".
By Thursday, E-Food management had crumbled. Not only was the self-employed option completely off the table, the riders would now have unlimited contracts. Unions celebrated a "huge victory", but decided to continue with the Friday strike nonetheless, to "ensure that what the company has announced will be put into practise". The riders' victory was not only painful for E-Food, but it also hurt the centre-right Greek Government, which had just weeks before passed a new labour law making it easier for platforms to justify hiring workers as "partners" rather than employees with full labour rights.
This year alone, we have seen Barcelona taxistas strike to stop Uber entering the city, a historic national riders strike in Italy, a Deliveroo strike in the UK following the IPO disaster, a Bolt drivers strike in the UK, the incredible wild cat strikes of Gorillas riders in Berlin, the spontaneous Glovo protests and blockades in Barcelona, followed by the Glovo 'dark supermarket' riders strike. As Europe comes out of the pandemic, platform workers in the ride-hail and food delivery sectors are showing they have real power.
And there's more to come: on Tuesday [28 September], the Elite Taxi drivers will once again take over the streets of Barcelona against Uberisation, while on the same day Uber drivers in France, Britain and other countries will strike for better terms & conditions. The Gig Economy Project will be reporting live from Barcelona on Tuesday, keep an eye on our twitter (@project_gig) for updates.
Ben Wray, Gig Economy Project co-ordinator