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EU legislation on platform workers has stalled for the time being. This should also have been the first legislation ever to protect workers against algorithmic management.

In the European Union there is growing concern about the position of platform workers, people who work through digital platforms such as Uber and Bolt. According to FNV, this concern recently reached a new low when a proposal for EU legislation aimed at providing better protection for this group of workers failed to find a majority among Member State governments. The proposal was intended, among other things, to ensure that persons who in practice function as employees can more easily claim employment, and to protect them against the arbitrary power of algorithmic management.

Petra Bolster-Damen, executive director and international secretary at the FNV, expressed her opinion deep disappointment about this development. She emphasizes that the struggle for European protection of platform workers has been going on for years and the failure of the Ministers of Social Affairs and Employment to reach consensus is seen as a serious misstep. "What a miss. We have been fighting for European protection for platform workers for years and in the end the Ministers of Social Affairs and Employment from the various EU countries failed. Very sad,” says Bolster-Damen.

The urgency of this issue is underlined by the rapid expansion of platform companies, who increase their market share through a revenue model based on false self-employment. This not only leads to unfair competition with traditional companies but also undermines fundamental employee rights. Platform workers, who are in urgent need of protection, are being left behind by the inaction of EU Member States.

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Photo: Kim van Sparrentak (Groenlinks)

"Macron and the German liberals apparently consider the profits of large platform companies such as Uber and Deliveroo more important than better working conditions for the most precarious workers."

The bill could also have been a first in the field of regulating algorithmic management. It proposed introducing rules that determine which decisions can be made by apps in the management of platform workers and which decisions require human intervention. The influence of powerful lobbies from platform companies such as Uber and Bolt is seen by many as a major factor in the proposal's failure. “Digital developments will not stand still until governments reach an agreement in Brussels. You have to manage this, but now the aggressive lobby of platform companies such as Uber and Bolt is triumphing,” says Bolster-Damen.

With the European elections looming and likely insufficient time for renegotiations between national governments and the European Parliament, it appears that this issue will play a central role in the campaigns. The FNV has made it clear that they will not accept the current state of affairs and are determined to continue fighting for the rights of platform workers in the Netherlands, Europe, and beyond.

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