Declaration of Principles
On April 24, 25, 26 and 27, hundreds of workers and organizers, union members and gig workers’ organizations of 15 countries in three continents gathered together in California, United States to launch the first International Gig Workers Congress. There we debated on the issues and challenges of our sector with the objective of strengthening our fight to achieve the recognition of our employment relationship, and guarantee fair working conditions for all the sector. Therefore, we declare:
1° Delivery riders and drivers are workers, as are all other types of platform-based, gig workers that may exist or might be created in the future. They are not associates nor independent contractors or collaborators. We perform our tasks under company-imposed conditions in exchange for wages, so the first demand of this Congress is the legal recognition of this employment relationship, with full rights, in order to guarantee fair working conditions to support ourselves and our families.
2° The business models of gig work companies are based on denying our status as employees to exploit us and make a profit. They present themselves as intermediary service providers, concealing the real source of their profits: the grimmest exploitation of their workers, to whom they deprive of all basic rights. These capitalists operate in a deliberate, systematic and internationally-coordinated manner, investing millions of dollars to keep denying our most basic rights, fighting against all unionizing and organization attempts from workers defending their claims.
In addition, they have links to and operate upon world governments to try to prevent any kind of regulation that may grant workers rights. Therefore, there exists no common ground between gig workers and their employers. This Congress advocates complete political independence from the companies on the part of gig worker organizations.
3° Gig work is a growing sector with hundreds of thousands of workers around the globe. Our strength lies in being united and collective solidarity to strengthen and push our claims forward. This Congress encourages the creation and strengthening of grassroots trade unions, or workers’ organizations of any kind they themselves may see fit to freely assemble, to fight for their rights. We unconditionally support the right to unionize, which companies and governments around the world must acknowledge. Our strength lies in taking the fight to the streets with massive participation from gig workers. Unions for all.
4° The complete deprivation of labor rights places us workers in an extremely precarious working situation, our line of work being one of the most affected by this phenomenon in the world. Under 21st century capitalism these companies intend to set our labor rights back 200 years, and treat their workers as slaves. This Congress demands application companies and world governments full, legally acknowledged, labor rights: a democratic negotiating table to discuss order rates and the implementation of a fair salary. Pensions, paid holidays and paid leaves. Health and work insurance.
5° Women and LGBTTI workers are twice as vulnerable to violent incidents as we carry out our tasks on the street. We have no entity to go to should there be an incident. By the same token, we have no specific leaves, such as maternity leave. Gig work must acknowledge all women workers’ rights and provide violence prevention protocols.
6° Management of work processes by algorithm, presented as a technological innovation, is actually a control and discipline-enforcing mechanism for workers, productivity rates, organization, and wages. This evinces a clear existing employment relationship under which we work. All the while, these algorithms are kept concealed by companies, as they cover up their management and use of personal data for profits. As a phenomenon, this use of technology to increase exploitation of workers goes beyond drivers and delivery riders. 21st century capitalism is increasingly encroaching upon more and more work sectors, annexing them to a system of digital exploitation. We demand algorithm transparency, that they be open-source and clearly and simply explained, so that the consequences of this mechanism become plainly visible and we can stand up to company control of our moves. We reject all attacks to the working conditions of any sector in the attempt to digitalize it.
7° Gig workers perform our jobs outdoors on the streets and are greatly vulnerable. We work under heat waves, extreme cold and other adverse weather-related conditions. We are exposed to accidents and assaults and should we lose our work tools (vehicles, phones), not only do we have to replace them ourselves, but also in the meantime, we are unable to perform our work. For this reason, we demand companies and world governments provide support points for gig workers: places to get shelter, rest, repair our vehicles or get hydrated, and that companies also provide our work tools and outfits and specific spots in or around the stores where we can keep our vehicles safe.
8° The pressure to which these companies subject us is becoming greater and greater. Constant changes are being implemented in the apps that affect us: increasing the distance to be covered for each order, back-breaking double or triple orders, unsafe routes and areas, for which penalties are applied if we do not accept them. This results in 10 or 12-hour work days, 6 or 7 days a week, which is much higher than in other work sectors.Therefore, it is necessary to set clearly defined time boundaries for the work day, which should not be longer than 6 or 8 hours, with a fair salary and overtime in case of a longer shift. We also need regulations as to order weight, among other issues.
9° Gig work around the world rests upon migrant workers to a great extent, and is very often carried out by black workers. A great number of them are undocumented, without any support networks, and are prone to be harassed by police or fall prey to scams. This Congress declares itself for the unconditional defense of migrant workers’ rights and their full integration into documented and fair work, under fair conditions and without suffering any kind of discrimination. This Congress declares itself against all racist attacks to gig workers.
10° Workers who organize, demand their due rights as workers or are simply carrying out their daily duties, are constantly subject to arbitrary behavior on the part of companies, which block our accounts as they please – which in reality means being fired or suspended, in many cases as a clear anti-union stance. By the same token, all around the world, union organizers and leaders have suffered violence threats and even death threats for standing up to the exploiting and precarious app company policies. This Congress is strongly against all retaliation against worker organization and workers fighting for their rights, demands protection from lay-offs and suspensions, demands protection from any kind of violence that they may suffer, and declares itself with the affected workers and union leaders.
11° Gig work is a global, 21st century capitalism phenomenon. We face the same model and working conditions in many different countries, which binds together all gig workers around the world as brothers and sisters. Companies in this sector are large conglomerates that operate at a multinational level, and know no borders. Neither does our struggle. This is the reason why we have organized this Congress, to bolster the greatest international solidarity and coordination so that we can create a massive international movement to conquer all our rights. We shall work towards strengthening gig workers’ organization to fight for our rights all around the globe. Gig workers of the world, unite!