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5 Jan 2021

Natasha Lomas, Tech Crunch

Italian court rules against 'discriminatory' rider-ranking algorithm

A court in Italy has dealt a blow to unalloyed algorithmic management after a legal challenge brought by three unions. The Bologna court ruled that a reputational-ranking algorithm used by on-demand food delivery platform Deliveroo discriminated against gigging delivery workers by breaching local labor laws...

In a statement, the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) called the Bologna court ruling “an epochal turning point in the conquest of trade union rights and freedoms in the digital world”...

 A [Deliveroo] spokesperson has now sent us this statement:

“This judgement refers to a historic optional booking model which is not used by Deliveroo in Italy or other markets. Riders have complete flexibility to choose when to work, where to work, for little or as long as they want. This means that there is no booking system and no obligation to accept work. “We offer self-employment because this offers the flexibility riders want. Every survey shows riders overwhelmingly value flexibility above all else — more than 80% in the latest survey. Currently Deliveroo receives thousands of requests to work as a self-employed rider each week and we have doubled the number of riders in the UK — we now work with 50,000 riders in the UK, up from 25,000 last year.”...

The on-demand delivery app has faced down a number of legal challenges on home turf — related to its classification of gig workers (as self employed couriers) and its opposition to collective bargaining rights for riders.

Although a 2018 inquiry led by U.K. MP Frank Fieldlikened its “flexible” labor model to 20th century dockyards — saying the dual labor market that Deliveroo generates works very well for some riders but very poorly for others.