Yet to be delivered: labor rights in the gig economy

Digitally controlled platform work is fundamentally changing working conditions while current legislation is lagging behind this development. Our joint campaign "Liefern am Limit" is advocating for the rights of Lieferando drivers.

Foto von Jon Tyson auf Unsplash

Clara Helming
Senior Advocacy & Policy Manager

Lieferando riders get instructions on their phones, with an algorithm deciding on shifts, deliveries, and even bonuses. Only Lieferando knows how these decisions are made – how the algorithm works is kept a secret. This makes it difficult or even impossible for drivers to stand up for their rights.

That's why we are launching a new survey today, in partnership with the German union Gewerkschaft Nahrung-Genuss-Gaststätten (NGG). We ask riders how they experience algorithmic management. How are shifts and delivery orders allocated? Do they think that the app creates a hidden score on them? Can employees object to decisions if they believe that something went wrong?

Algorithmic management should be transparent by default. Some attempts to regulate companies have been made. The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) bans automated decision-making & robo-firing. And just last week, EU member states agreed on the Plattform Work Directive (against the votes of Germany and France), a law that should help make algorithmic management more transparent.

BUT: It doesn’t really make a difference to the couriers, cleaners, and click workers in the so-called gig economy.

The regulation of platform work has only just began. We need laws that can be enforced effectively and safeguard workers' rights. The German government – as all member states' governments – must take action here.

Platform work is fundamentally changing working conditions. If we do nothing about the gig economy’s abberations, they might spread to all economic sectors. We should take this very seriously and avoid loosing hard-won workers' rights.

The survey is part of the the NGG campaign "Liefern am Limit," which advocates for better working conditions for delivery riders.