The bad working conditions of platform workers, particularly those of Wolt and Foodora, are again being discussed thanks to the important article by Helsingin Sanomat (23.04.). As we, Helsingin Sanomat and many others have noted, Wolt and Foodora are circumventing employer responsibilities and externalizing costs of production to couriers, who are working as “partners”. That is, as seemingly independent or sham entrepreneurs. By keeping couriers as “freelancers”, the companies do not have to pay their pensions, take care of sick leaves or pay for the means of production, namely the vehicles, which are owned by the couriers.
As the article by Helsingin Sanomat shows, this creates the possibilities for even worse abuse. Now contracting companies and individual actors are renting accounts needed for courier work to those, who cannot create an account of their own. One group that needs to borrow accounts are undocumented migrants, who have no other possibility to work. We believe that anyone of us would in those circumstances do the same, namely try to work for our living by any available means. At the same time, it is understandable that hose couriers, who have an account, but who have to earn large amounts of money to keep their residency permits or qualify for family reunification, rent out their accounts for additional small income.
The circumvention of employer responsibilities by Wolt and Foodora is only part of the problem. Another part is the harsh immigration policy of Finland, where on the one hand high income demands for residency permits force people to work under bad conditions and which, on the other hand, creates undocumented migrants, who can be preyed upon by companies and middlemen.
We think Wolt and Foodora need to acknowledge that their couriers are employees and start to take responsibility for them. At the same time, the employment of immigrants must be eased so that people do not have to subject themselves to abuse and exploitation just to make make a living.