Amendment to the Road Transportation Law and conflicts over Uber in Poland
In Poland, platforms (predominantly Uber and Bolt) operate with so-called fleet partners, which function as intermediaries between the platform and the drivers. In this tripartite model of platform work, the fleet partners provide the equipment (most importantly vehicles) and registration as businesses (in order to receive the obligatory taxi drivers’ license) as both are unaffordable for the majority of individual drivers. In exchange, these intermediary companies receive a share of the drivers’ income. However, they do not offer employment contracts to drivers. Despite this model, many drivers operate illegally without having obtained such a license, which has caused conflicts between platform companies, taxi drivers and civil society.
- In Warsaw, the protest group Grupa Antyprzewozowa (GAP) contests the practices of ride-hailing platforms, which operate with illegal drivers. Among others, they denounce the drivers’ lack of competences and lacking safety precautions (especially since the drivers, aiming to earn as much as possible, keep working for many hours at once).
- In 2017 protests against unfair competition erupted in Łódż, Poznań, and Wrocław. In 2018, among others a protest was held in Warsaw with more than 1000 taxi drivers participating. The drivers accused ride-hailing platforms of operating illegally and evading regulations. They demanded the government to enforce regulations to contain the dominant development towards Uberisation, which is perceived as a common threat to the sector. They have been supported by the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ), which is engaging in an exchange of experiences with German trade unions (such as the IG Metall).
In light of growing contestation especially by taxi drivers, amendments to the Road Transportation Law came into force on 01.01.2020. This followed several unsuccessful attempts to regulate the operations of Uber and similar platform companies in Poland that had been made since 2014. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation was postponed to 01.01.2021. The new regulation will include the following changes and requirements:
- Drivers now must pay higher insurance for their cars and are required to install additional equipment, including a taximeter, taxi lamps and special markings.
- The preconditions for obtaining licences have been slightly eased as drivers still need to pass a medical examination and a vehicle check, but do not need to pass an exam on the topography of cities.
- Drivers must keep a cash register in the vehicle, which can be digital in the form of a mobile application. However, it needs to be certified by the Central Office of Measures (GUM).
- Platform companies must obtain licences to serve as intermediaries in the provision of taxi-hailing services. A key condition is registering the company in Poland, which means paying taxes (CIT and VAT) locally.
Polkowska D (2020). Unionisation and mobilisation within platform work: towards precarisation—a case of Uber drivers in Poland. Industrial Relations Journal, 52(1), 25–39.doi:10.1111/irj.12315
- Code of conduct, standards, Legislation
- On-location platform-determined routine work
- Bolt, Uber