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Spain adopts landmark law to protect 'gig' delivery workers

Spain approved a pioneering law Tuesday that gives delivery platforms a mid-August deadline to hire the workers currently freelancing for them and that requires transparency of artificial intelligence used to manage workforces.

The new law approved by the center-left ruling coalition comes in the wake of a ruling by Spain's top court last year and at a time when other countries in Europe and elsewhere are deciding on a labor model for the so-called gig economy.

The government's move has angered digital businesses and some food delivery workers who took to the streets on Tuesday in different Spanish cities because they say that remaining self-employed benefits them.

A delivery worker rides his motorbike in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Spain has approved a pioneering law that gives delivery platforms a mid-August deadline to hire the workers currently freelancing for them and that requires transparency of artificial intelligence to manage workforces. (AP PhotoManu Fernandez)

Labor Minister Yolanda Díaz said Spain was the first country to take legislation on the relationship between delivery platforms and their workforce this far.

“We are at the vanguard and the world is looking at us,” Díaz told reporters following a weekly Cabinet meeting.

She said the move was an effort to protect the most vulnerable and that reflected the “new winds” that across the world were implementing trying to increase the wellbeing of citizens.

Delivery workers protest in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Spain has approved a pioneering law that gives delivery platforms a mid-August deadline to hire the workers currently freelancing for them and that requires transparency of artificial intelligence to manage workforces. (AP PhotoManu Fernandez)

“Workers cannot leave their soul on the keyboard of our laptops or on electronic gadgets,” Díaz said.

The government's law has been the result of an agreement with the country's main workers' unions and industry associations, although smaller groups representing Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Glovo and other main players in the market claim they have been sidelined in the negotiations.

Delivery workers gather during a protest in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Spain has approved a pioneering law that gives delivery platforms a mid-August deadline to hire the workers currently freelancing for them and that requires transparency of artificial intelligence to manage workforces. (AP PhotoManu Fernandez)

Delivery workers protest in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Spain has approved a pioneering law that gives delivery platforms a mid-August deadline to hire the workers currently freelancing for them and that requires transparency of artificial intelligence to manage workforces. (AP PhotoManu Fernandez)

A delivery worker protests in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Spain has approved a pioneering law that gives delivery platforms a mid-August deadline to hire the workers currently freelancing for them and that requires transparency of artificial intelligence to manage workforces. (AP PhotoManu Fernandez)