Dutch Unions Approach On Deliveroo’s Riders: the Riders Union

Robbert Coenmans, PhD Candidate at Tilburg Law School.

March 2018,

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Dutch trade union FNV appears to be using Deliveroo as a test case for organizing (young) workers in the platform economy, with a reasonable degree of success.

There seems to be some international coordination, seeing as how similar actions are taking place in, among other places, Belgium, France, Germany and Hong Kong. Deliveroo appears to have been targeted because, amongst other things, it forces all the workers (in the Netherlands; mostly youth) to register as self-employed. By contrast, Thuisbezorgd.nl, a Dutch food delivery platform, treats their workers as temp-workers.

 Thus far there seems to have been an organizing campaign in the Netherlands, where a new special purpose ‘union’ was created, called ‘Riders Union’. They have successfully organised young workers, managed to stage strikes and occupy the Amsterdam head office. This hasn’t stopped Deliveroo from pushing forward, and forcing all workers to be self-employed. Helpful from the Union’s perspective is that Dutch Youtube-star Tim Hoffman is now also publicly taking the side of the Riders Union. Mainly of interest from a legal perspective is that an employee connected to the Riders Union, has announced a lawsuit against Deliveroo, claiming full employee status. With the help of the Labour Party he has crowdfunded the money needed. No court date is as of yet known. Furthermore, in response to the activism, the Dutch government has announced a ‘crackdown’ on Deliveroo. However, the actual contents of these measures seem to be quite halfhearted, which ties in with the general problems the Dutch government appears to have with tackling abusing the legal status of self-employed. In the U.K. a similar court case has already taken place where the judge has ruled against Deliveroo.

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