Since 2006, the digital platform economy has grown at pace in Serbia. The first platform, Donesi, was transformed into an app when bought by Foodpanda in 2014 and was bought again by Delivery hero in 2016. Ride-hailing services, such as the local CarGo, are only active in the capital, Belgrade. Food-delivery platforms, however, have begun to spread and Uradi-zaradi, the only on-demand home services platform in the country, is currently present in three cities: Belgrade, Novi Sad and Kragujevac.
Despite long and exhausting hours, minimal protections, and considerable risk from traffic accidents, platforms work is reasonably popular among young Serbians. Considerable barriers to entry into the formal economy, combined with the opportunity to earn a wage equal to, or even greater than, the Serbian average (700 Euros gross) with reasonable flexibility are factors driving the decision of workers to move into the sector.
In this second report by Fairwork Serbia, ‘Labour Standards in the Platform Economy Fairwork Serbia Ratings 2022 ‘, five platforms – Glovo, Wolt, CarGo, Mr.D and Uradi-zaradi – were evaluated based on five principles of decent work. The report ranks the platforms against five principles of fair work, giving each company a score out of ten. It finds that the majority of the platforms could not find evidence they meet the basic standards of fairness when benchmarked against the Fairwork principles.
The 2022 Fairwork scores for Serbia range from zero to six (out of ten). This indicates divergent working conditions at the five digital labour platforms evaluated and reflect the varied policies and management practices, as well as employment models, utilised by the platforms.
Wolt and Uradi-zaradi top the ratings table with six points each; Glovo is in second with three, and the remaining two platforms, CarGo and Mr.D (the latter scored for the first time this year) did not score any points at all. Scoring zero points means that they could not prove they meet any minimum standards of fair work, such as ensuring all workers earn above the national minimum wage.
Fair Pay: This year, three platforms were able to evidence that they ensure that workers earn at least the minimum hourly wage after costs.
However, only two platforms, Wolt and Uradi-zaradi, were able to document that their workers are paid at least the living wage after costs.
Fair Conditions: Three of the five platforms researched (Wolt, Uradi-zaradi and Glovo) were able to provide evidence that they undertake steps towards protection of their workers from task-specific risks, while Wolt also provided evidence about active development of a safety net and improvement of working conditions beyond task-specific risks.
The three platforms have clear policies and practices to protect workers from task-related risks including accidents, as well as COVID-19 insurance (Wolt and Glovo) which shields workers from income loss while on sick leave.
Fair Contracts: Like last year, the results show that only Uradi-zaradi was able to provide evidence about clear and transparent contractual terms and conditions accessible to workers at all times, including a specified time frame for informing workers of potential contractual changes.
Fair Management: Three out of five platforms, Glovo, Wolt and Uradi-zaradi, evidenced clear communication channels allowing workers to interact with a human representative of the platform either through the app, phone, email or in person.
They were able to provide evidence for a formalised process for workers to appeal decisions resulting in penalties or disciplinary actions, even when they no longer have access to the platform.
Fair Representation: Like the previous scoring round, none of the platforms could be evidenced to meet the conditions for this principle.
This leaves platform workers in Serbia with no formal mechanism of collective bargaining in place to represent and protect their rights
What can I do? Fairwork Pledge
As part of Fairwork’s commitment to making platforms accountable for their labour practices, we have launched the Fairwork Pledge. This pledge aims to encourage other organisations to support decent labour practices in the platform economy, guided by the five principles of fair work.
Organisations like universities, schools, businesses, investors and charities that make use of platform labour can make a difference by supporting platforms that offer better working conditions.
Organisations have the option to sign up to the Pledge as an official Fairwork Supporter or an official Fairwork Partner. Those signing up to be a Supporter must demonstrate their support for fairer platform work publicly and provide their staff with appropriate resources to make informed decisions about what platforms to use. Becoming a Fairwork Partner entails making a public commitment to implement changes in their own internal practices, such as committing to using better-rated platforms when there is a choice.
The Oxford Internet Institute, The University of Oxford School of Geography and the Environment, The Church of England Diocese of Oxford, the Good Business Charter, The New Economics Foundation and Meatspace Press have already signed the pledge. Join them in demanding a fairer future of work!