Today, workers from 23 countries and six continents are set to gather in the UK for the first meeting of the International Alliance of App-Based Transport Workers (IAATW).
The meeting, which will be held over two days, will be the first time drivers from around the world have come together to develop joint objectives and a global strategy to tackle the 'abuses' of platform companies such as Uber, Bolt, Grab and Lyft.
The meeting was convened by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and is supported by the Open Society Foundations. It was planned by an international committee of drivers, representing workers in India, South Africa, and the USA.
According to the IWGB, drivers around the world are facing specific problems and challenges, but they say increasingly global issues are starting to become clear such as low pay, precarity, and dangerous working conditions.
While some joint action took place last year, with workers organising strikes in multiple countries in the run-up to Uber's IPO, it is believed that this meeting will seek to build on those existing networks to develop more successful actions in futures.
Nicole Moore, representative of US driver organisation Rideshare Drivers United (RDU), says: “This is unprecedented. App-based transport workers are coming together from around the world because we are all subject to the same exploitation. Multinational corporations like Uber make billions from our labour and work to undermine labour rights for everyone, while we’re left struggling to survive on poverty pay. Global exploitation calls for a global resistance strategy and that is exactly the work we will begin at the conference.”
Elizabeth Frantz, Director of the Open Society’s Fair Work initiative, said: “The rapid growth of platform companies has been built on a business model that excludes fair labor practices and perpetuates low pay. This week’s meeting allows labour activists in the gig economy from around the world to come together to exchange ideas, share lessons and discuss strategies for new forms of global collective action.”
Image credit: IWGB