In the face of intense pushback by exploitive global app-based companies operating in the Republic of Georgia—where workers are beholden to algorithmic whims to earn their uncertain livelihoods—unions are fighting for platform worker rights through advocacy campaigns, legal challenges and organizing drives.

“Solidarity and unity in protecting our rights are essential,” says Georgian Yandex and Bolt food-delivery app driver David Rochikashvili, who credits the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC) with helping drivers like him file a Tbilisi City Court lawsuit demanding recognition of drivers’ employment relationship with Yandex and Bolt. 

An International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network (ILAW Network) report—which analyzes 30 recent employment cases across 18 countries—found that app-based companies “go to extraordinary lengths to construct an impenetrable legal armory around themselves, requiring workers, unions and/or the state to overcome innumerable hurdles should they wish to impose any employment obligations on the companies acting as ‘employers.’”

People who are denied legal worker status are ineligible for the minimum wage, holiday or sick pay, social security contributions and worker rights protections afforded by national labor laws—including the right to safety on the job. By wrongly denying a direct employment relationship with app workers, app-based platform companies are growing their profits at workers’ expense and threatening decades of hard-won human and worker rights progress toward achieving decent work. Globally, unions are fighting back.

In Tbilisi—where the cost of living has risen dramatically, including rents that have more than doubled year over year—couriers for food delivery company Wolt in 2023 struck to protest a new remuneration system that couriers said would severely cut their earnings. Wolt owner DoorDash—having generated more than $100 billion in sales since inception—last year achieved second place on Forbes’s Midas List Europe.

Georgia’s transport and agricultural worker unions, among others, are stepping in to support rideshare and delivery workers’ organizing efforts across various platforms.

“Hundreds of platform workers have been organized and are collectively striving to improve their working conditions [in Georgia],” says GTUC Vice President Raisa Liparteliani.

The Solidarity Center’s ILAW Network is continuing to train Georgian Bar Association worker rights lawyers on how to protect delivery workers’ rights in the country’s courts, and is pursuing advocacy work with Georgian policymakers and legal experts through legal conferences that highlight app-worker rights and best practices. And, after Wolt courier Shakro Metrevelis’s case failed in a lower court, ILAW and the GTUC are appealing it in the Supreme Court of Georgia to advance Metrevelis’s groundbreaking effort to establish legal status as a Wolt LLC Georgia employee.

With union support, workers on digital platforms, through courts and legislation, are beginning to make significant gains, especially in Europe and Latin America. In a first for app-workers anywhere, European Union (EU) member states last month reached a provisional agreement on an EU platform work directive that includes a presumption of employment and rights on algorithmic management.

Pin It on Pinterest


the News from The Solidarity Center