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Your dinner is not run out by an entrepreneur

As soon as it rains in a European city, the streets start to get crowded with them. The food delivery couriers have large, heat-insulating backpacks that cube on their backs. They fly on electric scooters and mopeds. City dwellers do not have to go out and shop in the rain but can sit quietly on the sofa while someone else gets wet.

The food delivery people can, in any case, take comfort in the fact that they are self-employed. With entrepreneurship as their fuel, they drive home middle-class pizza boxes.

At least if one is to believe bourgeois debaters and legislators.

The EU is working on something called the Platforms Directive in Brussels. This roughly means legislation to try to protect working conditions for those who work in the gig economy. These include, for example, certain types of food couriers, taxi drivers and courier drivers.

What they all have in common is that they work on a contract basis with precarious employment – or none at all. Around 5.5 million of all gig workers in the EU are incorrectly counted as “self-employed”, according to the European Commission’s estimate. The purpose is that the employer – sorry, the owner of the gig platform – should avoid paying employer contributions, holidays and other benefits.

Unlike real self-employed people, the work of gig workers is monitored. They are often completely dependent on the platform and can be arbitrarily suspended from work if they have not worked fast enough or behaved according to digital managers. Gig jobs often need to compete with other workers for assignments. Sometimes they even pay for the equipment required for the work themselves.

The goal of the new EU directive is to strengthen the rights of gig workers. Platform companies should not be able to evade their obligations by calling employees self-employed.

But the right-wing entrepreneurial fanatic thinks that is a stupid idea. As usual, the European Commission’s proposal for a directive is very crazy.  But if you think that the directive risks sabotaging a lot of self-employed people in Europe, you have got something on your back.

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