In its ruling no. 376 of last 23 November, The Court of Florence declared the unilateral terminations made by a digital platform of home food deliveries (the “Company“) from the relationships in place with individual workers (“riders“) ineffective, following a failure to adhere to the National Collective Labour Agreement (the “NCLA“) signed by Assodelivery, the trade association representing the Italian food delivery industry to which the Company belongs, and UGL rider – the trade union.
Facts of the case
The matter arose in October 2020 after the stipulation of the NCLA with UGL through Assodelivery, the Company sent a communication to (about 8,000) riders asking them to sign a new work contract as an essential condition for continuing the relationship.
With an appeal filed on 25 February 2021, the trade unions FILCAM CGIL FIRENZE, NIDIL CGILFIRENZE and FILT CGIL Firenze brought an action against the Company opposing the decree under art. 28 of the Workers’ Statute issued on the previous 9 February by which the appeal brought by the same parties for the alleged anti-union conduct of the Company was rejected, which was based on:
- failing to inform the trade unions of the decision to terminate existing contracts in October 2020 in advance, omitting them from the subsequent consultation phase;
- failing to initiate the information and consultation procedures provided for by Law 223/1991;
- having made the continuation of relations with riders conditional on acceptance of the NCLA signed by Assodelivery and UGL rider, damaging the plaintiffs and favouring the latter.
The Court of Florence’s decision
The Court of Florence clarified that riders must be considered employees, and the management of the relationship with them must be subject to the relevant rules, including those on termination.
As for the notice sent by the Company, the Court found (i) there was no consultation with the trade unions that the Tertiary Distribution and Services would have been required by the Collective Labour Agreement applied to its employees and (ii) it was intended to simultaneously terminate the relationship with more than 8,000 riders, constituting a “significant change in the company organisation.”
According to the Court, since it was undisputed (because it was uncontested) that some riders equal to or greater than five had prematurely terminated their employment following the Company unilateral change, the procedures provided for by Law 223/1991 should have been used, including “prior written notice (in the absence of rsa or rsu – union representatives) to the trade associations belonging to the most representative confederations at a national level.”
According to the Court, the plaintiff associations fall within the scope of the recipients of the above communication as they are trade associations. Furthermore, each of them has multiple-factor organised and quasi self-employed workers who are members of a confederation such as CGIL, which is representative at a national level.
The Court of First Instance observed that elements such as how the agreement was signed, the lack of discussion between the union and riders, absence of disputes brought by UGL, contract content that excluded UGL from the European Economic and Social Committee and the failure to continue negotiations with other trade unions to stipulate further and different contracts, were “unequivocal and concordant elements in favour of the union’s (UGL rider) unrepresentative nature and the discriminatory nature of the privileges granted to it which were unjustified by the union’s bargaining strength.”
On these grounds, the Court, accepting the union representatives’ appeal, ordered the Company to immediately cease the anti-union conduct, condemning it to initiate the consultation and discussion procedures provided for by the Tertiary Distribution and Services Collective Labour Agreement and the information and consultation procedures under Law 223/1991. In addition, the Company was ordered to publish the full decree text at its own expense and once in some specific local newspapers and pay the costs of the proceedings (including the summary stage) to the plaintiff union.
The order to immediately cease applying the Ugl rider NCLA remains, to date, limited to the local jurisdiction of the Court of Florence, which has ruled on the matter.
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