Trust me, said the platform

Image: Artem Berliaikin


The innovations of the so-called platform capitalism make work even more precarious

For those who are awake, there is no doubt that we are living in a time where the class struggle has become a true war. And the truth is that right now the workers' side is taking a real beating. We are getting the worst of it not only for fighting much richer, more influential and more organized enemies, but especially for not seeing (or not wanting to see) that we are at war. While they know they are in a fight for their existence as a class, we are tormented by problems, but distracted. Since they are unable to make the cake grow any bigger, the “owners of the world” decided that the solution is to give even thicker slices to the few who already have a lot and leave less and less crumbs for the many who have almost nothing.

Recently, the Workers' Party began to speak openly about the repeal of the infamous labor reform, one of the first acts of the coup government. Attacks on the PT increased exponentially in the hereditary media after the statements by Lula and Gleise, they say that even the so-called “moderate” deputy, whom large sectors want on the presidential ticket, was worried. This only shows the elite's strong willingness to maintain the general regression they implemented at any cost and, if possible, to deepen it even further.

Despite knowing well that resuming what was achieved with the CLT of 1943 is fundamental, today I want to talk about another labor category, one that even the limited labor rights of the counter-reform have, the text is about those people who, despite working for companies billionaires do not even have a formal contract or the minimum social security support.

Since the 70s of the last century, trade unions and other class organizations have been attacked from all sides and the ideology of each man for himself, save himself who can, has been systematically promoted, however with the invention of the so-called Platform capitalism has reached a new level.

Someone has already said that there is nothing revolutionary about poverty, quite the contrary, during major crises the desperate masses tend to fiercely dispute anything that guarantees their survival for one more day. It has also been said that technology in itself is neither good nor bad, it all depends on how you use it. Aggregating thousands or millions of people who intend to sell a service or product in a single place and bridge the gap between them and consumers seems like a smart idea, if this “meeting point” is managed by the users themselves, through an association or cooperative, for example, could even be a revolution in the economy[1]. But this dream of self-management and liberation of the exploited is just a dream for the time being, the platforms are controlled by the same plutocracy that dominates the analogue world or by new sharks who quickly learn the rules of this marked deck game.

Delivery and passenger transport applications usually take up to half (or more) of the amount paid for the service, in addition to subjecting their “employees” to absurdly long journeys and subtly manipulating them through algorithms, which punish or even exclude those who do not want to submit to working conditions worthy of the first industrial revolution, the one that started in England. Oh, if you fall off your bike or crash your car, it's all your problem, you'll be helpless and without income. If you try to organize a strike to demand better conditions, you may end up suffering even harsher reprisals, even including death threats, as reported by food delivery workers to the press.

In other sectors, such as the sale of artistic and cultural goods, the approach is different, the platform simply says: trust me. And if you want to sell your music or your books on these quasi-monopoly sites, you'll really have to trust them. It is true that many musicians and authors have always been suspicious of the sales figures presented by their publishers and record labels, but as the products were physical, it was a little more difficult to say that the artists did not sell anything when they saw their work displayed in all the stores in the city. The sizes of print runs and issues could also be used as a basis for calculation. Today with digital files it is impossible to carry out any accounting, if the site says that you sold one or a thousand units, you can only believe it. Even if you become suspicious and make a complaint, the platform will always have the final word, and any audit is impossible. Or rather, the big platforms are not interested in such an audit, since with widely available technologies such as BlockChain, for example, there would be total transparency about the number of downloads. Who knows, maybe a group of talented Brazilians, but without opportunities (the majority of people) get together and build something like this? And don't forget my royalties, huh!

If having a meager and uncertain income is bad enough, remember the old saying: the bad can always get worse. I recently came across a site for selling photos that, in addition to charging pimp-worthy commissions, has a clause in the contract that says that if you don't deliver a digitally treated photo within 48 hours as per the customer's request, you have to reimburse him in 100 % of the amount paid. But in this case, the amount was paid to the site, and it will keep all the money from those who bought the photo. What if the photographer has an accident and is in a coma for a month? You'll probably wake up owing your pants, because the size of your debt will also be what the website says.

Also know that this type of clearly abusive clause is not uncommon, several famous translation sites for example impose the same type of fine. It doesn't matter if lightning struck your house and burned your computer or if you had a family emergency, if you don't deliver the material within the specified time, you'll have to return the customer's money... money you didn't receive, nor will you ever receive.

Capitalism of the XNUMXst century is really very innovative, in its mold you kill yourself in exhausting journeys, without any guarantees or rights to, at best, earn a few bucks. In the worst case scenario, in addition to not earning anything, you still owe the boss. By the way, no boss, after all you have no employment relationship.

*Vitor Silveira graduated in Social Communication, writer and photographer. Author among others of Once On The Road.



[1] This article was written before the announcement by the mainstream media that the city of Araraquara (SP) helped create a delivery and travel application managed by a local cooperative and through which drivers and couriers keep up to 95% of the total value

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