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From The Socialist newspaper, 2 November 2016

Gig economy exploitation can be beaten...

Fight for decent jobs for all

Taxi firm Uber's smartphone app, photo Pexel (Creative Commons)

Taxi firm Uber's smartphone app, photo Pexel (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Helen Pattison, Youth organiser, Socialist Party London

Those working in the 'gig economy' will be over the moon at the recent victory of Uber drivers.

Two workers, backed by general union GMB, took the transport firm to employment tribunal to prove they were actually employed by it. Because shockingly, Uber has been claiming its drivers are 'self-employed', meaning it has no legal responsibility to pay the minimum wage or grant decent holiday and sick leave.

This is bogus self-employment. It is one of employers' favourite tricks to avoid even the limited workers' rights the law provides.

A summer of strikes in the sector and a wave of unionisation of low-paid workers have put a lot of pressure on the bosses. Partly as a result, the judge made a scathing verbal attack on the rise in this form of exploitation, stating: "The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common 'platform' is to our minds faintly ridiculous."

This ruling should give confidence to everyone working insecure jobs. But important as this ruling is, it was not a foregone conclusion. Collective workers' action helped win it, and only collective workers' action will ensure the bosses stick to it.

Strike

A Deliveroo workers' delegation enters the company HQ for talks with management photo James Ivens, photo James Ivens

A Deliveroo workers' delegation enters the company HQ for talks with management photo James Ivens, photo James Ivens   (Click to enlarge)

The Ritzy cinema workers in south London are back on their picket lines fighting for a living wage, after bosses refused to take seriously their pledge of negotiations after the last round of strikes. Deliveroo drivers recently won a big victory against changes to their contracts which would have slashed their pay, also by striking.

These workers are some of the most exploited. But they are also finding their voice to fight back.

These industrial battles must continue, backed by unionising more low-paid, precarious and unorganised workforces to join them. Trade unions have a double role: they can ensure existing workers' rights are respected, and can fight for a better deal too.

But we also need a political voice. Jeremy Corbyn won huge support by calling for ending zero-hour contracts, introducing a 10 an hour minimum wage, and scrapping restrictions on trade unions.

To make these demands a reality, Corbyn must lead the fight to get the Blairites out of Labour. We need a mass workers' party opposed to austerity, to fight for an end to bogus self-employment and the exploitative practices gig economy.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 2 November 2016:


What we think

Corbyn movement must seize initiative - or face defeat


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight for decent jobs for all

Fight the 'burning' of our museums and libraries!

Battle of Orgreave: Establishment cover up continues

One third of 2010's new teachers have already quit

We are all Daniel Blake: no more deaths from benefit cuts

LGBT people need militancy, not false 'allies' like David Cameron

What we saw


Refugee solidarity

Solidarity with refugees

Demolition of Calais 'Jungle' camp - eyewitness report

My time in a detention centre


Socialist Party youth and students

Mass student strike rocks Spanish state

Glasgow School of Arts students "let us learn" revolt


International socialist news and analysis

EU-Canada trade deal battle points to Corbyn's Brexit opportunity


Environment and socialism

Heathrow expansion exposes Tory divisions


Socialist Party feature

Will workers on company boards make bosses accountable?


Workplace news and analysis

Sheffield bin workers' action strengthens in numbers and mood

Solid Southern strike continues against Britain's 'worst' train company

Newsquest strike: "It's impossible to do our jobs"

Outsourced ambulance workers strike in Tooting


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Glenfield heart unit closure: Over 1,000 march

Massive demo against A&E closure

Campaigners call on Greenwich council to oppose the Housing Act

Haringey care services face ruthless cuts and privatisation

Teaching assistants stage vigil and rally

"Our problems cannot be solved by capitalist politics"


 

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