Crunch Time for the Platform Management Model

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2150 ... July 21, 2020

Crunch Time for the Platform Management Model

Ursula Huws

In what may come to be viewed as a historic court case, a group of UK Uber drivers from London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow have launched a legal action against Uber in the Netherlands, supported by the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), the International Alliance of App-based Transport Workers (IAATW) and Worker Info Exchange. The complaint against Uber, which is headquartered in Amsterdam, centres on its failure to provide access to data on drivers or explain its algorithmic management practices as required by the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Meanwhile, two other members of the ADCU, Yaseen Aslam and James Farrer, will be appearing in the Supreme Court in London on July 21st to defend themselves against Uber’s challenge against earlier landmark rulings that when they were working for Uber they should have been treated as workers rather than independent contractors, and should therefore have been entitled to paid holidays and the minimum wage.

The coincidence of these two cases exposes very... clearly the contradiction that lies at the heart of the platform management model – which seeks to control workers with a minuteness of detail unprecedented in the history of capitalism while at the same time denying that they have any relation of dependence at all. Like Schrödinger’s cat, which is simultaneously both alive and dead, they are simultaneously both managed and not managed, forced to live out their working lives in a stressful borderline state in which they are denied both autonomy and security.

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