All over the world, gig economy companies like Uber and Deliveroo are facing legal action for their treatment of employees with at least 40 major legal challenges currently in the works. Issues like pay, hours and safety are all being addressed as those on the job fight for better, more equitable working conditions. However, the problem doesn’t entirely lie with individual corporations but rather with the system. Meant to give workers freedom from traditional job structures to work when and where they want, for many, the gig economy has failed, forcing them into long hours with little pay and no protections like health insurance. Hoping to reverse this trend and create a fairer system, cooperatives are springing up around the world.

Taking on the rideshare industry, the Drivers Cooperative launched their app Co-op Ride in New York City in June 2021. The worker-owned platform functions like other ridehailing apps, but all profits go back to the drivers rather than a conglomerate. Drivers vote on company decisions allowing them more control over their lives. In October 2020, Colombia-based MAT, another driver-owned cooperative, launched, hoping to circumnavigate the issues other companies have had in the market around pay and employee benefits. Claiming to be a socially responsible company, the drivers are shareholders and their pay increases as the company grows.

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Khora Kollektiv

Food delivery drivers are also looking to the cooperative model as a solution. Berlin-based Khora Kollektiv launched in March 2020 with its 30 employees handling both bike deliveries and dispatch duties. In Spain, Eraman’s 10 employees discuss company decisions to reach agreements that benefit them all. Both companies use software from CoopCycle—itself cooperatively governed by a federation of bike delivery co-ops.

As the world looks to a brighter future after more than a year of economic and societal turmoil, new systems are being tested—and workers are taking matters into their own hands, demanding a more equitable, sustainable way of working.

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