Massa announces state-sponsored insurance for platform workers

The sector is traditionally seen as aligned with far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei

Economy Minister Sergio Massa announced on Tuesday that delivery app workers will be able to access free insurance as of December 15 through the state-owned Banco Nación’s insurance company, Nación Seguros.

“We intend for workers who ride a motorcycle or a bike delivering on the street are not left without income if they have an accident,” said Massa. “That they do not lose their pension rights, and are protected by the state.”

The announcement came a week after Massa met with platform workers at the Economy Ministry to discuss their working conditions, after which he promised to enforce a series of measures to increase the state protection of the sector.

According to a press release from the ministry, there will be a 60-day test run of the new insurance policy starting December 15. The Economy Ministry will later analyze the results to write a bill regulating the sector together with the workers and companies.

The minister also said that the Transport Ministry would build twenty-five stations with rest areas, wifi, restrooms, lockers, security cameras, power outlets to charge cell phones and electric vehicles, vending machines, and parking spaces.

Argentine platform workers have generally shown themselves aligned with far-right libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei due to his anti-regulation stance. In September, Ramiro Marra, La Libertad Avanza (LLA)’s erstwhile mayoral candidate for Buenos Aires met with gig workers to discuss their situation.

“We have to let people work, there is no point in regulating these services, it only screws the citizens,” said Marra.

The Herald spoke with gig workers about the recently-announced measures.

“I won’t support any proposal that comes from Massa — with him, everything hides an ulterior motive,” Verónica Rea, an 18-year-old Pedidos Ya worker who supports Milei’s bid for the presidency, told the Herald.

“Nothing is free. In any case, I would not pay for [the insurance], people would pay for it with their taxes, and that would make us part of what we criticize so much — people who live off the state,” she said. “My opinion is that the less the state gets involved in our work, the better.”

According to the Economy Ministry, there are at least 200,000 gig workers like Rea in Argentina in 2023. This represents around 10% of independent contractors and 1.8% of employed people in Argentina. The fact that they choose their working hours and do not have traditional employment contracts with the delivery companies makes it hard to regulate their activity. Massa described them as “slaves without rights” whereas Milei vowed to not let the government or a union “interfere” in their jobs.

Juan Manuel Ottaviano, a labor lawyer who specializes in platform workers, told the Herald that both Milei and Massa demonstrated interest in their working conditions, although “from diametrically opposing” points of view.

“One has a perspective that wants to keep labor deregulated and unprotected, the other from a perspective that seeks to gain labor rights,” said Ottaviano.

“However, neither of them seems to solve the debate about the classification of their jobs and the new labor rights — for example, the freedom to manage their own schedules.”

Ottaviano added that the reason why so many gig workers are against regulating their activities is because they have “no rights” — they don’t have paid vacations or sick days, for example.

“Naturally, as they have no labor rights, what they fear losing is what they do have — the opportunity to work.”


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