Majority of public think ‘gig’ employers should be required to negotiate with trade unions

Most people from all political alliances want to see transformative reform of workers' rights.

29 Oct 2021| News

New research from the University of Oxford has found strong support for policy that would require ‘gig’ employers like Uber, Deliveroo and Amazon Flex to set wages and conditions through negotiation with their workers’ trade unions.

Of the 2,020 adults polled by Survation on behalf of the university’s Fairwork research project, 64% said they wanted to see changes to employment law to counteract bogus self-employment, and 57% thought gig economy platforms should be required to work with the trade unions that represent their workers.

A majority (60%) also thought workers should be represented on the boards of ‘gig’ employers and two-thirds (66%) said companies should have to inform workers of changes to the technology used in their jobs.

What’s more, respondents under the age of 45 were in support of the nationalisation of gig companies if they did not maintain decent working standards.

“These results show an appetite for decisive action to improve fairness in the gig economy,” Mark Graham, Professor of Internet Geography at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and Director of Fairwork said.

Alex Marshall, President of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), said “the tide is turning in the gig economy”.

“Not only are we seeing more and more exploitative employers lose in court and be ordered to give workers the rights they have been illegally denied, but now we are seeing public opinion hugely change too,” he explained.

“These key workers have proved their value with the huge shift they put in to get us all through the pandemic and the public are getting behind them in demanding better treatment.”

Yaseen Aslam, App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) President, said: “This poll clearly shows that consumers and workers are united in the fight for an immediate end of misclassification and exploitation in the gig economy. Yet, despite ADCU’s win at the Supreme Court it is employers, central government and local transport regulators who are lagging behind broader public opinion and still failing to do right by workers, their unions and enlightened consumers.”

The poll found the majority supported reform whether they vote for Conservative, Labour or other political parties, and whether or not they voted to leave or remain in the EU.