Commentary: Threat of gig economy to trade unions allayed by collective bargaining agreements

Author: Sarah O'Connor, Financial Times, Published on: 28 February 2019

"Gig economy agreements promise a brighter future for trade unions", 26 February 2019

For those trade unions already on their knees after decades of decline, the arrival of the gig economy a few years ago felt like it could be the beginning of the end... Unions have fought the gig economy with mixed success so far....

...So this year the GMB took a different approach: it negotiated a deal with Hermes. The company's 15,000 couriers can now choose to remain self-employed, or opt for a new "self- employed plus" status, which offers union representation, minimum wage guarantees and holiday pay. The announcement caused some disquiet. Should a union really be sanctioning the idea that workers can "opt in or out" of employment rights that a court has already said they are owed?...

But the GMB made a pragmatic choice. Its collective bargaining agreement means progress for workers today... The union will also gain thousands of new members in a sector that has been notoriously hard to reach.

It looks like a shift towards a more Scandinavian model, which relies less on employment laws to protect workers than on negotiations between employers and unions...

Trade unions still have a long way to go... But the threat of the gig economy has given them new reason to invest in their old strengths: organising workers on the ground, and sitting across a table to thrash out a deal. What looked like the end for unions, might just be a bend in the road.

Read the full post here

Related companies: Hermès