The European Economic and Social committee (EESC) has participated in the ongoing public debate with a hearing on non-standard employment and platform cooperatives. It discussed platform cooperatives' role in promoting the business motivations, ecosystems, bargaining power and social rights of "freelancers".
Non-standard employment or the "freelancers" economy is a growing and multifaceted phenomenon that responds to the converging motivations of companies and professionals: flexibility, independence, productivity, business motivation and entrepreneurship. The digital cooperative platforms allow the development of new business models, the sharing of skills and knowledge. The significant transformations in business models and work models have definitively broken down the barrier between self-employment and employment. The cooperative model can match new internet-based business models and platforms through the ownership and power of control of the people who use and work on them, avoiding precariousness and the impact of deep crises such as the pandemic.
In this regard, Giuseppe Guerini, rapporteur of the own-initiative opinion on Non-standard employment and platform cooperatives, to be put to the vote at the EESC's December plenary, said that,
the market requires regulation, with regards to the needs of employers and the protection of workers.
The panellists agreed on the advantages of the cooperative model:
- Allows the integration and regulation of a wide range of independent professional models, sharing data management and benefiting from synergies that would otherwise be out of reach for culturally and geographically dispersed freelancers;
- Compensates for the deregulation (and abuse) of traditional platforms through ownership sharing and democratisation;
- Gives equal votes in decision-making, which results in greater privacy and transparency;
- Develops positive aspects for workers and consumers, such as fair prices, higher wages, and more responsible data collection and use;
- It is more resilient in times of crisis, more productive, with higher wages and extends the duration of the professional "bond".
Among all the presentations, there was agreement that the platform cooperative model is rigorous and with organic growth. Cooperation platforms are also an excellent way to reconcile social and environmental objectives.
For its part, the EESC aims to draw up proposals for greater transparency and fairness in the online platform economy. The EU proposals, which include the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Service Act, aim to ensure that data is effectively shared and that the value generated can be distributed fairly.
In this diffuse context, cooperatives can bring something new to non-standard work. Their strategy is guided by common interests rather than exclusively private ones.