Trade unions present strategies for improving the position of platform workers in Serbia

Strategies for trade union organizing and protection of the labor rights of platform workers in Serbia were presented at a round table organized by UGS "Nezavisnost" trade union association and the Association of Independent Trade Unions of Serbia.

The digitalization of work and the development of the “gig economy” have transformed the global economic infrastructure and opened up issues of legal security and basic labor and social rights of digital workers. According to data published by the Center for Public Policy Research, digital platforms today employ more than 28 million people, while by 2025 they might employ as much as 43 million.

A recently adopted directive of the European Parliament proposed measures to improve working conditions on digital platforms in the EU. You can read more about the directive on Mašina.

Regulating the position of platform workers in Serbia

Serbia is certainly not the only country where the position of platform workers is less than enviable. Regulation of this area is still lacking in most countries around the world.

Platform workers remain invisible in the eye of domestic legislative, and therefore denied legal protection, which is why unions presented the necessary further steps.

“People are more than working tools. We have to make the worker central for the future of work again”, said Bojana Bijelović Bosanac, presenting the perspective of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Serbia when it comes to the strategy for improving the position of platform workers.

In its commitment to improve the position of platform workers UGS “Nezavisnost” trade union association takes the position that the existing legal framework doesn’t provide sufficient grounds for regulation, and that it is crucial to amend the existing laws. Therefore, the first step must include the introduction of new provisions into the Labor Law.

By amending Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Labor Law, the application of this law would be extended to all persons (workers) who perform actual work for the employer and would ensure a wider and more flexible application of labor legislation norms to digital workers.

Another change refers to Article 5, paragraph 2 of the Labor Law, which would redefine the term “employer” and provide criteria on the basis of which it would be possible to determine whether there is an employee-employer relationship in a certain legal transaction. This is especially important if we take into account the high percentage of fake self-employed platform workers.

When it comes to the possibility of unionization, “Nezavisnost” sees the solution in Article 206 of the Labor Law, which designates a union as an employee organization. The amendment would guarantee all employees and other persons engaged in work, in accordance with the union’s statute, the freedom of union organization and action without approval, with entry in the register. In this way, it would be possible for the unions regulate who can be a member of the union and exercise all the rights stemming from that status, through the application of positive regulations, on the basis of a union’s statute.

Good practices from the region

As you could read on Mašina, last year in Slovenia the couriers of the Wolt and Glovo platforms founded the Union of Deliverers, within the “Mladi plus” trade union.

“Mladi plus” from Slovenia gathers not only employees, but also broad groups of other categories: young unemployed, high school students, students and precarious workers. The union pays special attention to the rights of self-employed persons, the rights of entrepreneurs and the rights of other platform workers.

The round table was joined by Jernej Kastelic, who presented the work and obstacles that the “Mladi plus” union was facing, but also the encouraging results and the growing awareness of Slovenians when it comes to the fight for dignified work.

UGS “Nezavisnost” see the need to establish a branch union especially for platform workers, following the “Mladi plus” model.



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