Italy, hosting G20, will call for tougher ‘gig economy’ rules

ROME (Reuters) – Italy will call for tougher rules governing ‘gig economy’ workers when it hosts labour ministers of the world’s biggest economies in the Group of 20 next week.

Italy’s labour minister, Andrea Orlando, said countries should require big companies such as Amazon to take responsibility for working conditions at their suppliers, as part of reforms to ensure contractors are well-treated.

“Large corporations must also take responsibility for small ones. They can no longer say that what happens outside their sheds does not concern them,” Orlando was quoted as saying by Italian daily La Repubblica.

Lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have increased demand for casual workers such as food delivery drivers, while cleaners and care workers have faced health and safety risks.

The G20 summit in Sicily comes as the European Union is set to propose an EU-wide regulatory framework by year-end, and courts and regulators have sought to address perceived shortcomings in the gig economy.

It will also take place amid public anger in Italy over the death of a trade unionist killed on Friday by a truck driver during a demonstration against job losses at U.S. logistics company FedEx.

Trade unions blame outsourcing and the use of workforce management algorithms on international platforms for an erosion of rights and wages.

Orlando said it was a challenge to enforce trade union rules on platforms based abroad, but this should not give companies an excuse to avoid employment standards. “It is no coincidence that it will be the subject of the G20,” Orlando said.

(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Peter Graff)