ZSSS highlights issues of platform workers on decent work day

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Ljubljana – Slovenia’s largest trade union association, ZSSS, drew attention to platform workers – cleaners, food delivery persons, care workers and others as a group who often lacks any worker or social rights, urging the Labour Ministry to introduce a legislative framework to prevent unfair practices.

ZSSS leader Lidija Jerkič told the press in Ljubljana on Thursday, World Day for Decent Work, that decent work is the final goal the unions advocate for all workers.

“This is work which brings security for the employee, which brings dignity while on the job, which is paid fair, and which is safe and sustainable,” she said.

Jerkič recalled changes in the Slovenian labour market over the past 30 years, saying there was first the rule that a worker and a company sign an open-ended contract.

Then various forms of employment contract which were limited in time started to appear, followed by agency workers who gradually turned into the self-employed, while the country has recently witnessed platform forms of work, which have considerably spread during the coronavirus epidemic.

Saška Kiara Kumer, secretary general at the Trade Union of Transport Workers, said that “for many of us a platform means digitalisation or an easy access to services”.

But this in fact means a worker “who is totally dispensable, with no rights, no employment contract, while hardly earning enough to make ends meet”.

ZSSS would thus like the Labour Ministry to introduce a set of general conditions to protect platform workers.

Mladi Plus trade union leader Tea Jarc added they would like platform workers to be granted the status of worker and thus basic worker and social rights.

The rules applying to ordinary employers must also apply to platforms, meaning respecting collective bargaining agreements and national legislation, she said.

The trade unionists highlighted the recently passed changes to the road transport law that enable multinationals such as Uber to enter the Slovenian market.

“I fear that this law will soon be followed by similar ones and that the very notion of safe employment will vanish, which we consider dangerous,” said Kumer.

Jarc said platforms are avoiding responsibility to workers by arguing they are tech companies although their main line of business is services – taxi service, transport, food delivery or home cleaning.

“What’s worrying is that platform work is increasingly moving to the area which should be part of public services, which can be seen in care workers,” said Jarc.

A survey by Mladi Plus on food delivery persons working for Wolt and Glovo has shown they work as many as 12 hours a day seven days a week, have to provide their own means of transportation, while pay is not stable, depending on hours done, distance from clients, traffic, weather.

Workers have no in-person contact with the management, there is little care for safety at work, with most of the workers working as students or self-employed, meaning these are precarious jobs, while they have elements of regular employment, said Jarc.

To symbolically support platform workers’ rights, ZSSS set up stalls today with free food and tea and bicycle repair services while offering them to join the trade union.