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The Gig Economy Project is back after a short holiday and we are heading to Brussels next week to report on the 8 October 'Alternatives to Uberisation' conference, organised by France Insoumise MEP Leïla Chaibi on behalf of 'The Left in the European Parliament'. 

Last year's conference came shortly before the European Commission's draft Platform Work Directive proposal was published in December, and Chaibi has since said that she believes the lobby of platform workers which was organised out of that conference to meet European Commissioner for jobs and social rights, Nicolas Schmit, was an important intervention in ensuring a positive proposal was brought forward. The conference will hear updates on the latest developments with the Platform Work Directive as the rather secretive legislative process, where the EU Council and European Parliament amend and - ultimately - ratify the Directive, is ongoing but leaves most of us in the dark.

A mobilisation of taxi drivers will coincide with the event, with taxis coming from all over Europe to 'march' on the European Commission following the Uber Files revelations. The Uber Files revealed that former EU Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes had breached rules on lobbying by pushing the interests of Uber with top figures in the Dutch Government just shortly after leaving the Commission. The Files show the lengths Uber went to in order to hide the extent of their relationship with Kroes. The Commission responded to the revelations by saying that they would be contacting Kroes for answers, but since then nothing further has been forthcoming.

The Uber Files will rightly be a key talking point at this year's conference, with an international popular enquiry commission on the Uber Files recently established. Danielle Simmonet, Member of the French Parliament for France Insoumise, will present the popular enquiry to the conference. Journalist Damien Leloup from Le Monde, who worked on the Uber Files revelations, will also address the event. 

Spanish Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz, who was responsible for the rather embattled 'Rider's Law' in Spain, will speak by video link, while there will also be an intriguing session to discuss Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Management.

Platform workers from at least 13 different countries will also be represented, and will hold their own General Assembly to share experiences and discuss strategies.

For the full schedule click here. We hope to see some of you in Brussels, and if you would like to meet up for a chat don't hesitate to get in touch by e-mailing [email protected] or sending us a direct message on Twitter @project_gig.

Ben Wray, Gig Economy Project co-ordinator

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Gig economy news round-up

  • CREDIT AGENCY ADVISES AGAINST LENDING TO GORILLAS: In the latest blow to the Gorillas grocery delivery app's battle for survival, credit agency CreditReform now advises against lending to the Berlin-founded company, which just two years ago was Europe's fastest-ever 'Unicorn', which is when a start-up reaches a valuation of €1 billion. Management has now admitted that some of its business partners have "payment arrears", but claims this is due to changes in its payment software. The company is thought to burn through around €60 million a month as it sought to secure market share through advertising and discounted prices, but with investment drying up and inflation rapidly rising, demand is slowing. Gorillas recently secured additional investment from its initial investors in a bid to restructure the company and bring it onto a more financially sustainable path, but it's not clear yet whether this is achievable. Read more here.
  • FIRED WORKERS REACH COMPENSATION AGREEMENT WITH GOPUFF IN SPAIN: American delivery company GoPuff is completing its exit from the Spanish market, after a tense, month-long negotiation with its workers in Madrid, who organised collectively in an assembly and had demonstrated in regular mobilisations, reached a conclusion on Monday [29 August]. The mobilisations proved to be successful, as the conditions of the compensation were improved from what would have originally been the minimum required by law, which would have seen many only receive approximately 10 days wages, to all workers receiving four monthly compensation payments, which is the equivalent of at least €3,800. "It is a pretty good agreement, and one that has no precedent in the sector," a worker representative told Business Insider España. "The negotiation has been a mere formality, if we have achieved it it has been due to union pressure." Read more here.
  • DELIVEROO FRANCE HAVE TO PAY €9.7 MILLION FOR MISSED SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS: A Parisian judge found on Friday [2 September] that British delivery platform Deliveroo has to pay €9.7 million to Urssaf, a network of private organisations which collects employee and employer social security contributions. Urssaf had accused Deliveroo, which is part-owned by Amazon, of concealing 2,286 delivery jobs in Ile-de-France between 2015 and 2016 and not having paid the related social security contributions. The judge stated that Deliveroo "does not limit itself to connecting end customers and partner restaurants, who are never in contact, but itself executes the delivery of meals prepared by through delivery people, so that the delivery is inseparably part of its activity". Thus, Urssaf's accusation was "perfectly justified". Deliveroo responded by saying the judgement was "neither regular nor fair" and that they would appeal. Read more here
  • CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IN PRIVATE HIRE PLATFORMS DROPS 25% IN A YEAR: Private hire platforms like Uber, Bolt and Cabify have seen a sharp fall in customer approval over the past year, as rising prices, increased waiting times and driver cancellations have affected consumer confidence in the sector. The figures come from analytics firm Chattermill, who's chief strategist and insights officer Dmitry Isupov commented: “For ride-sharing, [loyalty and retention] has always been important. But now, with heightened competition across every industry, price pressures, and customers less loyal than ever, having a laser focus on customer retention is business-critical whatever sector you work in.” Some markets, such as London, has seen driver shortages for Uber, with the rising price of fuel making the costs of driving for a living increasingly prohibitive. At the same time, demand has been up in London due to the impact of tube and rail strikes, leading Uber to cap prices after customers complained they were being exploited by the company's surge pricing policy. Read more here
  • GETIR BLAMES RASH OF DISMISSALS IN SPAIN ON SUMMER SLOWDOWN: Turkish grocery delivery company Getir laid-off 35 members of staff and closed 20 of its 'dark stores' in Spain, half of which were in Madrid, leading to workers fearing that the company was going to be the latest to leave the Spanish market and were pursuing a covert collective dismissal, something which Getir denies. The lay-off's caught the attention of the UGT union because the stated reason for most of them was disciplinary issues. But Getir said that the layoffs were not an exit strategy, and "want to clarify that we remain committed to Spain and will continue with our operations in the six cities where we are present". Instead, the company claimed the firings were down to a summer slowdown in demand and "will not comment on individual cases of disciplinary dismissals for privacy reasons". Grocery delivery companies Gorillas and GoPuff have already exited Spain in recent months, while Getir announced they were laying off 14% of their staff worldwide, around 4,500 workers, at the end of May. Read more here

Is our news round-up missing important developments in the gig economy in Europe? Contact [email protected] so we can improve our service.

On GEP this week

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Wolt couriers demand FC København lives up to its “social responsibility” claims

Wolt Workers’ Group courier Rasmus Emil Hjorth speaks to the Gig Economy Project about how their campaign has revealed a larger problem with working conditions in football.

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Kate Bedford – Uber Files: How World Bank-sponsored research on gender painted the company in a positive light

The World Bank partnered with Uber to produce research which reiterated the company’s narrative that deregulation is good for gender equality.

From around the web

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Food delivery driver stabs self in protest over fines and unpaid wages

A tragic story from the Zhejiang region of China, where a food delivery courier stabbed himself outside his delivery depot after the manager would not pay wages owed and imposed a 1,000 yuan fine.

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Podcast: Migrant labour and the platform economy

In part one of this two-part episode from the 'Democratize Work' podcast, Gabriella (Gorillas Workers’ Collective) and sociologist Dr. Moritz Altenried (Humbolt University Berlin) discuss how the platform economy and migrant labour are related.

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Robert Ovetz: Taylor's digital stopwatch

Labour expert and author of new book 'We the Elite', Ovetz writes in 'Dollars & Sense' about what the labour movement in the US can learn from European workers in organising against algorithmic management.

Upcoming events

- The Left in the European Parliament is organising a 'Transnational Forum of Alternatives to Uberisation' in Brussels on September 8th. The event will take place from 9 am to 6pm. Click here for further details.

- The French riders collective CLAP is organising a mobilisation against Uber Eats in Paris on 12 September. Click here for details.

- Fair Work will hold an online summit on 14th of September titled 'Fair Work on Digital Platforms'. For full details and to register click here.

- The 2022 Re-Shaping Work Conference will be held in Amsterdam on the 13-14 October. Read more here.

Know of more events we should be highlighting? Let us know at [email protected].

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 gig workers' rights.

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 [email protected] or send a direct message to the Twitter @project_gig.

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