During the European Parliament’s October session, S&D MEP Jude Kirton-Darling and Mick Rix from British trade union GMB, met with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner-designate for Jobs, to discuss how to protect and strengthen the rights of platform workers across Europe.
In recent years, as the number of people employed in the platform and gig economy has increased massively, so has the need to guarantee their rights at work. More and more people across Europe are finding work via online platforms and apps, leaving them less well protected than in conventional workplaces. In the UK, organisations like the GMB have been campaigning long and hard on the issues of precarious employment and health and safety for platform workers. In February, the GMB signed a groundbreaking agreement with delivery company Hermes to offer its couriers holiday pay and guaranteed earnings. However, for many Europeans working in the platform and gig economy, precariousness and safety at work are still major concerns.
After hearing about campaigns for the rights of platform and gig workers, Commissioner-designate Nicolas Schmit outlined that he shares these concerns and that, as Commissioner for Jobs, he intends to fight for their rights:
“These companies are global, so we need global measures to combat this precariousness. Many of these companies have built reputations for using technology to revolutionise their services. However, ultimately, they still need people, and those people deserve the same rights and good working conditions that we have built up in other areas. We cannot allow regression; we must make sure that companies respect labour laws and that the convenience of these services does not lead to exploitation and precariousness. These platforms must work for everyone.”
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said: "It was great to have the opportunity to discuss the GMB's UK campaigns on platform work and precarious employment with Nicolas Schmit. These are huge issues across Europe that affect those most in need and, as social rights and fair working conditions are a major focus for Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, it's highly reassuring to see that the Commissioner-designate for Jobs has put them at the top of his agenda. With these commitments, our goal for a truly Social Europe is within sight."
Mick Rix, National Officer of the GMB, commented: “It’s clear from our meeting that the S&D Group in the European Parliament and Nicolas Schmit in the Commission understand the problems of precarious employment and platform work. It is good to know that this will be a top priority for both the S&D Group and Nicolas Schmit as we in the GMB continue our campaigns for decent working conditions for all, including platform workers.”
The S&D Group — alongside trade unions and Commissioner-designate Schmit — will continue to lead the fight for the rights of Europeans at work and against precarious employment in all sectors, to build a sustainable economy. We will do this by pushing for a European Pillar of Social Rights that includes a European directive on fair working conditions, with enforceable labour rights, health insurance and social protection for all, including platform workers, those on temporary and on-demand contracts, and those in internships.