Fighting back against the gig economy (UK) – Red Pepper

Extract from an article by Mags Dewhurst

The couriers’ branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain is taking a claim to employment tribunal, which, if successful, could not only revolutionise employment for cycle couriers but has huge implications for everyone who wants a fairer jobs market. The claim is against four of London’s largest courier businesses – CitySprint, eCourier, Addison Lee and Excel Group Services – challenging their classification of people who work for them as ‘independent contractors’. Red Pepper spoke to CitySprint courier and chair of the IWGB couriers’ branch Mags Dewhurst [above, right] as she prepared for her tribunal.

We need to set a precedent in case law to show that we are being bogusly classified as independent contractors.

We work for one company and we have one boss. I hope we can show that minimum wage legislation and the working time directive regulations should apply to us. That means things like having the right to the national minimum wage, paid annual leave and access to basic employment rights most people take for granted.

You have to bite the hand that feeds you if you’re going to change things, because they’re feeding themselves much more. We subsidise our employers completely. We provide the cost of the bike, maintenance, the labour, the parts, everything. The cost of my phone and data that I need to do my job all fall to me. The company says that proves I’m running my own business. I say, no: I’m fronting the operational costs of your business.

When you’re presented with a series of bad options: that’s not freedom. People say that we have a choice, but the freedom argument – which essentially boils down to the Tory idea that everyone is an individual and should be remunerated on their merits in a market?based system of meritocracy, where the strong and intelligent are rewarded and the poor, stupid people fall – doesn’t sound like freedom to me. That’s just exploitation.

What they’re doing with the ‘gig economy’ is archaic. Enthusiasm..(continues)

SOURCE: Mags Dewhurst , “Fighting back against the gig economy”, Red Pepper, 06 Feb 2017

Link to full article

BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia. 

 

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