This report summarizes main outcomes from the first round of PLUS local social policy laboratories. Several stakeholders engaged with platform economy have been rectuited to discuss about issues related to labour organization and workers’ rights. The goal of labs is to trigger a debate on problems and challenges related to platforms’ expansion in urban areas that could at the same time: a) disseminate PLUS results; b) endure beyond the project c) favour the production of shared policies and best practices.
The labs took place in 7 cities in October and November 2020 with the participantion of unionists, workers, policymakers, managers, experts. PLUS researchers stimulated the discussion around specific topics as the legal status of platform workers, the forms of collective organization, the prerogatives of municipalities in terms of regulation, Covid-19 impact and alternative business models. The labs did not aim to frame a systematic discourse but more to map the positions of stakeholders, the good practices and the boiling points in the public debate.
The report is composed by an introduction to the methodology and topics, the summaries of the 7 labs and a final section comparing main issues.
The legal status of platform workers has been point of hard debate in all labs where clearly emerged that it is quite difficult to furnish a clear definition in terms of employed or employer condition. This dilemma consequently influences the policy recommendations. Nevertheless, a set of claims (i.e. minimum wage, social protections, transparency) emerged universally. At the same time, the difficulties experienced by municipalities in regulating the phenomenon emerged. More data transparency, innovative agreements and platform cooperativism have been targeted as potential and different strategies. Finally, Covid-19 undoubtly impacted on the sector with multiple effects. Platforms had to adapt to the new conditions that created difficulties to some of them (i.e. Airbnb) and opportunities for other (i.e. Deliveroo). The attention placed in social campaigns did not correspond to an attention to workers’ protection. Indeed, they had to deal with the lack of adequate social protections and the load of entrepreneurial costs to stay on the platform.
Keywords: platform economy; Social Policy Lab;
Date: March 7, 2021.