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The News Line: Editorial End the ‘gig economy’ and all cheap labour! Kick the Tories out! THE DRIVE by the bosses to force every worker in Britain into the so-called ‘gig economy’ has hit the headlines again this week with the news that the food delivery company, Deliveroo, has been setting up pop-up kitchens in car parks and industrial estates across the country without deigning to obtain anything in the way of planning permission from local councils.


These kitchen ‘pods’ as they are called are usually housed in shipping style containers or temporary set ups in empty industrial buildings and are staffed by chefs from different restaurants making food exclusively for takeaways – takeaways that are then delivered by Deliveroo cycle couriers.

These couriers are classified by Deliveroo as ‘self-employed’ contractors, who are forced to be on call at all times, yet because of their status are denied all the rights to sick pay, pensions, job security and holiday pay.

This of course is the hallmark of these companies like Deliveroo, Uber and the likes of Amazon that base themselves on circumventing every rule and are ultimately destroying all the employment rights won by workers in the past.

The flexibility that these companies claim to offer those working for them is the flexibility to be on call at all times and to be left without work when not needed. The claim that their workers are not real employees was rejected by a London Tribunal last year in the case of Uber.

The tribunal ruled that the two drivers who brought the case are not contractors but employees and therefore entitled to basic employment rights including the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay. Uber is challenging this decision through the courts and still maintains that it is not a taxi company but merely a technology company.

Deliveroo are also facing a legal challenge over the employment status of its delivery workers. This week Uber published its latest statement of accounts for last year. These accounts show the lengths to which these companies go to obscure the reality of their business and it exposes Uber’s claim that its 40,000 strong workforce are well looked after and content.

According to the GMB union: ‘Uber sends all the fare income made in the UK to a company in Holland. This Dutch company pays 75% of this income to drivers in the UK. GMB is working on the basis that the other 25% is the commission to Uber that comes back to the UK and makes up the lion’s share of Uber income in the UK. The reason Uber won’t come clean on this is that it would expose the reality that the 40,000 drivers would be working just over four hours per week for Uber. So much for 40,000 jobs being on the line.’

GMB added: ‘It is high time that Uber stopped the spinning and came clean on what hours its drivers work each week.’ There is no possibility of Uber or any of the other gig companies coming clean about their ‘business model’ for the reason that they are intent on turning every worker into an individual contractor with no rights and completely at the beck and call of the bosses.

The gig economy is being pushed out from delivery companies right into the public sector by the Tories. At last week’s Tory Party conference the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced his intention to create an Uber-style workforce in the NHS with nurses and hospital workers on flexible working hours just like those in the gig economy.

He announced plans to bring in app-based working in 12 NHS trusts with nurses being called in at short notice to do extra hours to cover the huge shortages caused by the Tory attacks on nurses’ bursaries and the pay cuts inflicted by austerity. This is the only future bankrupt capitalism holds for working people today – poverty-level wages with no rights and the NHS transformed into Uber-style private companies.

The only way forward for workers and young people is to put capitalism down. The TUC must be forced to take action and fight by calling a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and advance to a socialist society.
 
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