While Belgium and other European countries struggle to hold the line on workers’ rights amid the arrival of Big Tech, at least one company in Brussels is making a conscious effort to do things differently.
Dott’s blue scooters have been around Brussels for two and a half years now and in November they added 2,000 e-bikes to the fleet. But unlike comparable mobility start-ups, one thing they don’t plan on incorporating is the pool of short-term, contract workers that many young companies use to keep labour costs down.
“When I started at Dott two and a half years ago, what convinced me to join was the fact that this company wants to one, change things for good, and two, do it in the right way,” Marien Jomier, General Manager for Dott in Belgium, told The Brussels Times.
“That means all our fleet is repaired with increasing the lifespan of the equipment in mind. Moreover, we do this with socially-responsible long-term contracts for employees, as well as the insurance and social benefits that go with it.”
Plans for sustainable growth
Dott has 30 long-term employees in the Brussels area and plans to double that number by the spring of 2022.
“We were the first ones to have long-term contracts,” Jomier said. “We don’t and have never had any of those gig-economy aspects. From day one, we didn’t want to do that. We know that business model can work, but it’s not the way we want to do it.”
“Being a company means taking the risks for your employees, including illness and retirement and everything. As an employer, it’s your responsibility. To me, that’s the only way to do things. I’m convinced it’s better.”
Meeting a mobility need in Brussels
Brussels has long struggled with traffic congestion, taking home the title ‘most congested city in Belgium’ in an international traffic ranking last year.
The pollution that comes with such a high number of cars affects everything from historic cathedrals that require regular cleaning as facades are turned black from exhaust fumes, to public parks that have air heavy with pollutants despite being filled with trees.
Dott recently launched e-bikes in Paris and Rome, and Brussels will be the third city to welcome the bright blue bicycles. The company sees itself and its rental transport services as central to making Europe’s urban spaces greener.
Discarded scooters a matter of ‘civility’
“We have to look for a solution, and we are, but I think ultimately that comes down to dedicated parking zones,” said Jomier, adding that he hopes this will be the result of discussions currently taking place in Brussels Parliament.
“For our part, we try to always explain the proper way to park and send users reminders with alerts and newsletters. But civility isn’t only our responsibility,” Jomier stressed. “When people leave scooters everywhere, it’s not just because parking is free, it’s because they don’t really care. That’s not down to the scooter but individual users.”
Jomier emphasises that sustainability is at the heart of Dott’s philosophy. And this isn’t only the green transport they offer or the cargo-bike maintenance teams that service their fleet. It applies to how they treat staff as well.
“We are and want to remain the biggest player in Belgium. Our choice is to be responsible and take care of our people,” said Jomier.
“We have a desire to always go further. It’s a story of never-ending improvement.”