Success for Deliveroo riders in the Netherlands as strike action forces investigation

Friday 9 February 2018

After several weeks of strike action, Deliveroo workers in the Netherlands have something to celebrate. The Dutch government has launched a full-scale investigation in to one of the dark sides of the gig economy – the strategy of employing workers on bogus self-employment contracts despite working full time for a company like Uber or Deliveroo. The investigation comes after Deliveroo’s move to replace all employees on legitimate contracts with “self-employed” workers.

Until now, the Dutch government had been passive, but this action has spurred an examination of the gig economy’s labour conduct. Where applicable, it will enforce the law in the case of bogus self-employment. UNI affiliate FNV is convinced that Deliveroo will not pass the test and be forced to reinstate adequate labour contracts with social insurance, paid leave, pensions, and health/accident insurance.

Christina Colclough, Head of Platform and Agency Workers at UNI Global Union said, “After weeks of strikes and actions, political lobbying and serious threats to workers on strike, the Dutch government has been forced to act. Given the way Deliveroo workers are treated by the company, it’s great to see the government stepping in to investigate the widespread phony self-employment contracts in the gig economy.”

“Although Deliveroo were not explicitly mentioned, it’s clear that the strikes and their attempts to make all their workers’ self-employed contributed to this decision. We stand with Deliveroo workers and our affiliate FNV to call for an end to the bogus self-employment which is eroding workers’ rights.”

Last month, UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings warned business leaders at Davos about the dangers of bogus self-employment and misclassification of workers. Referring to a Dutch Deliveroo worker on strike, Jennings delivered the reality of the new world of work to Davos in a session on the gig economy. Jennings read a letter from a disenfranchised Deliveroo worker, relating the difficult experiences of platform workers to a visibly moved audience of top executives.