Online platforms want ‘social accord’ for workers but without the unions

Six online companies which rely on self-employed labour are calling on cabinet negotiator Mariëtte Hamer to open the discussion about a ‘social accord’ to guarantee gig economy workers’ rights, the Financieele Dagblad reports.

The timing of the request does not come as a surprise, the paper said. Deliveroo, Helpling, Roamler, Temper, Uber and YoungOnes are looking ahead at the labour markets reforms that are in the making, and which will call a halt to the growing inequality gap between permanent employees and freelancers without rights, the paper said.

Caretaker social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees has already said that the way to strengthen the position of gig economy workers would be to give them an automatic right to a fixed contract.

A social accord, the contents of which was not specified by the platforms, could be seen as a pre-emptive strike against the unions who have been vocal critics of platform working practices, the FD suggests.

In February meal delivery service Deliveroo said it would appeal to the Supreme Court following an appeal court ruling which said that delivery workers are pseudo-freelancers and should be paid in line with the official pay and conditions agreement for the sector.

‘Platform workers do not feel represented by the unions,’ said Niels Arntz whose platform Temper offers jobs in the hospitality business. According to Arntz, people who work for Temper also work for other platforms. ‘They are happy to have that freedom. It’s a bit weird that unions and employers are deciding about their autonomy in backrooms in The Hague,’ he told the paper.

Temper, too, was taken to court by unions FNV and CNV in October because they were not complying with the temporary workers’ collective labour agreement. The FNV is also planning legal action against taxi company Uber.

Last year, the government’s SER advisory body said that just 1% of the Dutch workforce works for platform based companies. At the same time, ‘platforms can distort the market because the rules that apply to other companies don’t apply to them,’ SER said.

The research shows seven in 10 gig economy workers are under the age of 35 and 66% supplement their earnings with other, paid jobs.

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