June 1, 2020

A great victory for Deliveroo | Innovation

A great victory for Deliveroo | Innovation


The great generals of history have always maintained that when a battle is lost, the only option is not to fight it. This seems the Deliveroo strategy, given that the macro-trial that should have taken place last Monday has been delayed more than five months. Delaying the fight you can end up winning it.

And sometimes we forget that the law does not respond to an absolute ideal of justice, but to what certain people voted in Parliament at a certain juncture. Undoubtedly, at least so far, we do not know a better way to enact laws. However, the foregoing does not mean that we are aware of the fragrant injustice that, on occasion, this may cause.

It seems evident that the current protective regulations for workers' rights are not to the liking of certain companies. Consequently, the strategy is to delay the trials in the hope that an electoral change will give the majority in Parliament to those who are willing to legalize what is now a fraud. Certain companies dream of a majority willing to take away labor rights from workers in this country, to deprive them of minimum wages, to exclude from the maximum working day, to banish the right to vacations, to do without the prevention of occupational risks and, above all , dream of eliminating the duty of companies to contribute to Social Security, an obligation that allows retirees to receive pensions at present.

Luckily most companies do not think so. In this country the vast majority of companies comply with the legislation and thanks to this we have the Welfare State that we enjoy.

Lately, the citizens – and the press – we turn on the street, or rather on Twitter, to analyze and criticize each sentence that seems unfair. But we forget that it is the Government and the legislator to whom we must demand that they enact laws that we consider fair. And, especially, that they do not eliminate laws that seem positive to us. To pretend that a bicycle messenger is considered a true entrepreneur and, therefore, autonomous, with current legislation and jurisprudence, seems to have little hope of success. Thus a ruling was pronounced that is already firm in Valencia in the case of Deliveroo.

However, with the passage of time, few things will prevent – perhaps by removing European legislation – that the Spanish legislator will change the law, if desired, allowing the distributor to qualify as an employer, who does not have labor rights. Or any other "invented" figure that excludes workers from work riders (That's what Deliveroo calls his delivery people). The same fate could run, in the hand of a legislative change, a waiter or a store clerk.

This situation, which may seem like a dystopia far removed from reality, has already occurred in other sectors like that of insurance agents, to whom, at a certain time, it was decided to exclude labor protection legislation. If it was done in the past, what prevents certain companies from dreaming of it happening again?

What is clear is that the responsibility to prevent it, if we do not like that idea, does not fall on the judges, not even on the riders affected, but in each and every one of the citizens.

Adrián Todolí Signes is a professor of Labor Law at the University of Valencia and author of Work in the era of Collaborative Economics.

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