Platform Labour

Who thinks of you when your boss is an algorithm?
Bicycle delivery drivers leave from Blaak to work.

Getting your pizza delivered, getting your text written by ChatGPT, or ordering a taxi via Uber. All operations that have platform workers behind them. For customers, this has many advantages. The convenience of ordering something through an app and the transparency through all the online reviews. For platform workers themselves, there are disadvantages alongside advantages. There is often a lack of social protection and labour rights. Furthermore, there is a lot of uncertainty about income. This can and should be improved.

Giving Ghostworkers a better life

The work of these platform workers who work online from home is difficult to regulate. Professor Claartje ter Hoeven is trying to change this with her research.

Read about the malpractices
Ghostworker at work from behind his computer.

Behind Artificial Intelligence (AI) are millions of platform workers

You don't see most of the platform workers. They don't drive around in a cab or cycle around town in a bright orange jacket. They sit at home behind their computers. We call this group microworkers or ghostworkers. "Because we don't see ghostworkers, their working conditions are even less regulated," says Professor Claartje ter Hoeven.


It seems as if AI independently possesses a form of 'intelligence'. In reality, the technology cannot learn anything without training data from millions of ghostworkers. Example: you are shown a picture of a dog and you have to indicate whether this is really a dog. "The work itself is not directly problematic. What is is how we value it," Ter Hoeven says. "Someone who does this work 40 hours a week sometimes earns 5,000 euros a year. That's far too little."


Our knowledge about Ghostwork

To help students, staff and society

Research Group Platform Work

Several EUR researchers are collaborating to address issues surrounding platform work.

Bezorger thuisbezorgd

Employee well-being important

Unlike platform work, a healthy and safe work environment is high on the agenda at EUR.

Person seen from behind in yellow T-shirt with tennis racket on tennis court.
students in a workshop
Alexander Santos Lima

Addressing labor issues during your studies

As a student, you can already do something to protect platform workers. By choosing the right course of study, you can learn about policies and regulations to address skewed working conditions. Or you can study more about the welfare of ghostworkers and already be working on improvements in that area during your studies. Below you can see three courses on this issue.

Training in which you tackle problems directly

  • Work & Organisational Psychology

    This master's track emphasises organisational psychology and the role of emotions in modern organisations.
  • Social Inequalities

    Why are social divisions in society increasing? Are you interested in knowing how welfare policies can help to reduce social inequality? Then this is your MSc!
  • Digitalisation in Work and Society

    If you’re interested in how digital technologies might reshape how we work, organise, and govern, this new, multidisciplinary master track is the right fit for…

You can do this yourself to help

We also hire ghostworkers within the university itself. Often for research. This ranges from filling out questionnaires to being the research subject themselves. Professor Claartje ter Hoeven: "We now pay the minimum wage of the country where you are doing research. We have agreed on that with each other. We are doing research on exploitation. Of course we can't do that by exploiting people ourselves."

What can we do ourselves? "Look at what are decent platforms. 'Bestellenbij' you can look at. At least 'Thuisbezorgd' just employs people. That's already better. Give delivery drivers cash tips. Some delivery people work it on someone else's account. Then they do the work, but don't get the tip."

Should the platform economy end?

Professor Claartje ter Hoeven knows all about platform work and takes us through its problematic aspects.

Claartje ter Hoeven bij Studio Erasmus.

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