A welcome news for gig workers amid rising inflation, shrinking purchasing power

A welcome news for gig workers amid rising inflation, shrinking purchasing power


EU lawmakers earlier agreed on a bill for at giving employee benefits to workers at online companies

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LAHORE/BRUSSELS (Web Desk/Reuters) – The rising costs of living is proving to be an existential crisis for an overwhelming majority around the globe – from a developing nation like Pakistan to the developed countries in Europe .

With shrinking purchasing power and stagnant wages, the situation is worsening with each passing day for the low income groups, especially daily wagers and those working in informal sectors or gig economy, as inflation isn’t going down, in fact, rising in Pakistan.

Although classified as employed, the gig workers in informal sectors or associated with the online companies are facing severe hardships due to poor working conditions.

They work hard and even overtime, but aren’t eligible for benefits and security enjoyed by others. Just think about the delivery boys [even women also among their ranks] or couriers earning their livelihood through online companies across Pakistan – the ‘gig economy’.

However, Reuters reported last week that a Brussels labour court has ruled that Deliveroo couriers should be classed as employees, potentially giving them more benefits and overturning an earlier judgment in favour of the British food delivery company.

The judgment only applies to the 28 bicycle couriers who in 2018, together with unions, the Brussels Labour Audit Office and the Belgian National Employment Office, started a lawsuit against Deliveroo, but could inspire other Belgian couriers.

Deliveroo is a British online food delivery company – just like we have several large and small ones in Pakistan – which currently operates in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.

"The terms of the employment relationship established between Deliveroo and the couriers are incompatible with the qualification of an independent employment relationship and lead to the conclusion that this relationship must be considered as an employee relationship and therefore should be reclassified", the court said in its ruling.

In an emailed reaction, Deliveroo said it would appeal to the Belgian Court of Cassation, adding that it was disappointed by the decision "because it does not take into account how our model works".

"We provide flexible work and this is highly appreciated by the riders that work with our platform in Belgium."

The ruling, if upheld, suggests the couriers may be entitled to benefits such as a fixed salary, sick leave and paid vacation.
Earlier this month, European Union lawmakers provisionally agreed on a bill aimed at giving workers at online companies such as Deliveroo and Uber employee benefits, which if adopted would be a global first.