Trade unions discuss platform work issues on Human Rights Day

Ljubljana – The ZSSS trade union confederation warned of the issues surrounding platform work in light of World Human Rights Day, as calls for regulation were issued at the ZSSS online round-table discussion, whose participants stated that platform work was detrimental for everyone – workers, society and the state.

ZSSS president Lidija Jerkič opened today’s online event by pointing out that platform work emerged as something that brings progress, but remains unregulated and unfair for workers – drivers, food deliverymen, cleaners, care workers and others who partake in the gig economy.

ZSSS executive secretary for labour market Andrej Zorko added that a broader debate on platform work should be encouraged immediately, as “it poses risks that should not be underestimated”.

Among the risks, he highlighted the denial of basic rights to platform workers, precariousness, low pay for services, the increasing intensity and extreme fragmentation of work, exclusion from social security systems, and particularly health and safety risks.

From the society’s point of view, Zorko said, platform work poses an increased risk of unfair competition and social dumping, and from the point of view of the state, it can cause loss of tax and contribution revenue.

The ZSSS already adopted a resolution on gig work in November, but a proper legal framework at the national level is required as well, said Saška Kiara Kumer, secretary general at the Trade Union of Transport Workers.

She recalled this year’s amendments to the Road Transport Act, which enabled the possibility of work via online platforms and opened the door to multinational corporations like Uber.

Meanwhile, Mladi Plus trade union leader Tea Jarc welcomed the recently issued proposal by the European Commission for a directive to improve conditions for platform workers.

The proposed directive identifies platforms as employers and would thus oblige them to pay contributions for health and pension insurance, dictate compliance with national frameworks and collective agreements, and prohibit dismissals based on algorithms, as Jarc pointed out.

However, she added that the road to adoption and implementation of this EU directive will be long and that the platforms registered as lobbyists will try to have a significant influence on its final content.

The representatives of the ZSSS also met with parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič in light of World Human Rights Day and took the opportunity to brief him on their resolution, which underlines all the crucial issues and problems concerning platform work in Slovenia.

In a press statement after meeting with Zorčič, ZSSS president Jerkič explained that platform work forces people to work outside the rights that they would otherwise have under the employment relationships act.

“The trade unions are not calling for a ban, but for regulation, restrictions and fair treatment of these employees,” she added. Zorčič agreed that platform work “addresses certain issues and questions to the state, which should be dealt with in a systemic way”.

He assessed that this form of work was popular with both the employees and the consumers, but on the other hand, it introduces a great deal of uncertainty about the labour rights and future stability for the workers.

“It is high time to take a step forward and start solving these issues,” added Zorčič, while the ZSSS wrote that “Slovenia should develop a people-centred and worker-centred approach to finding solutions”.