Negotiating the Digital Transformation of Work: Non-Standard Workers’ Voice, Collective Rights and Mobilisation Practices in the Platform Economy
EUI Working Paper MWP 2019/03
49 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2019 Last revised: 2 Mar 2021
Date Written: June 12, 2019
This paper attempts to grapple with the collective dimension of the phenomenon of the digital transformation of work. In particular, it explores the relevant legal framework, as well as practical obstacles and concrete responses to the process of “platformisation” of labour. It questions why and for what collective bargaining may be a viable tool to “negotiate” the direction(s) of this paradigm shift. In particular, it focuses on institutional approaches that pursue inclusive and engaging strategies aimed at organising across labour market segments. It also discusses the extent to which trade unions are interested in the fate of non-standard workers, what strategies they follow and what tools they employ. At the same time, it maps other actions and initiatives carried out by self-organised groups. It focuses on the actors and factors which either hinder or facilitate the development of solidarity.
The topic of mobilisation has been a central interest of academics in the fields of industrial relations, labour sociology and social movement studies. By adopting an empirical approach and a cross-disciplinary analytical lens, this work places itself at the crossroads of these disciplines.
The paper is organised as follows. After providing an outline of the main implications of the spread of new technologies and its impacts on employment relationships, part 2 explores the legal framework regulating collective rights, by considering a number of supranational systems of regulation and discussing the potential impediments arising from a narrow interpretation of antitrust immunities and restrictions. However, practical, in addition to legal, obstacles hamper or make less attractive the exercise of fundamental freedoms for non-standard workers. Accordingly, after describing current difficulties, principal actors, key actions and success factors in a selection of European countries, part 3 assesses recent initiatives and achievements. Finally, part 4 sets out the paper’s key conclusions by estimating future developments and offering policy pointers.
Keywords: collective bargaining, gig-economy, social partners, platforms, digital transformation, mobilisation
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