Fairwork Berlin Talk Series: Conflict and change in the global platform economy

Posted on 11.11.2021
Fairwork Berlin Talk Series 2021

Conflict and change in the global platform economy

This November, researchers, students and activists from the international Fairwork network and beyond will meet in Berlin for the Fairwork Winter School to discuss the future of platform labour, alternative visions to shape the platform economy and concrete steps to implement fairer working conditions in the sector.

As part of the Fairwork Winter School programme, we will host a series of open panel discussions that will be streamed on Fairwork’s Youtube channel. During these three events, a series of experts will discuss the work of the Fairwork project in different countries and contexts, the challenges of labour regulation in the platform economy, as well as potential interventions to reinvent a fairer platform economy.

Panel #1: What is fairness in the platform economy? Global perspectives on the Fairwork principles

Monday, November 22, 7-8.30 PM (Berlin/CET)

The Fairwork project is committed to highlighting best and worst practices in the platform economy based on five principles for fair work: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation. These principles were developed through a collaborative process that reflects the experience and expertise of a global network of researchers, regulators, activists and workers. This panel will discuss Fairwork’s principles in the context of five different countries and also the idea of fairness in the platform economy.


Arturo Arriagada (Fairwork Chile)

Henry Chávez (Fairwork Ecuador)

Mounika Neerukonda (Fairwork India)

Oğuz Alyanak (Fairwork Germany)

Branka Anđelković (Fairwork Serbia)


Funda Ustek-Spilda (Fairwork Foundation/Oxford)

Panel #2: Moving towards regulation: analysing current challenges, platforms’ responses and future strategies

Tuesday, November 23, 7-8.30 PM (Berlin/CET)

The regulation of platform companies has become a crucial issue for workers, unions and policymakers over the last few years. From California’s AB5 legislation to the UK’s Supreme Court ruling on Uber, companies in the platform economy have encountered increasing legal challenges to their employment and management practices from regulators across the world. Regional and federal governments, including Germany, have also published guidelines for a fair platform economy, and the European Commission is close to publishing a new directive on the issue. How can these regulative efforts be interpreted? How will the tensions between platforms and regulators evolve? And how can we ensure that new regulation truly benefits gig workers? This will be the topic of our Tuesday keynote, held by Johanna Wenckebach, a legal scholar and scientific director of the Hugo Sinzheimer Institute for Labour and Social Security Law. A response will be provided by Kelle Howson, a postdoctoral researcher with the Fairwork project.


Johanna Wenckebach (Hugo Sinzheimer Institute)


Kelle Howson (Fairwork Foundation/Oxford)


Valentin Niebler (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Panel #3: Interventions for a different platform economy

Thursday, November 25, 7-9 PM (Berlin/CET)

The platform economy is not only shaped by companies and regulators but also fundamentally by platform workers. The protests, strikes and collective action of gig workers for decent pay and working conditions have challenged the corporate attempt to profit from labour rights violations and bogus self-employment across different countries and platforms. These struggles enable us to envision a fairer future for work. What can be learned from the worker-led actions of the last few years? How do the various conflicts and struggles differ between countries and platforms, and where do they intersect? These questions will be discussed with reference to gig worker movements in Germany, India and beyond. The speakers will discuss the wild cat strikes of delivery riders in Berlin, the use of digital tools and tactics by Indian gig workers as well as strategies to build alliances and solidarity with and between tech workers.


Zeynep Karlıdağ (Gorillas Workers Collective)

Alessio Bertolini (Fairwork Foundation)

Yonatan Miller (Tech Workers Coalition)


Manuela Bojadžijev (Humboldt University of Berlin)

About the Fairwork Winter School:

The Fairwork Winter School is a collaborative effort and organised by members of Fairwork Germany, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, University of Oxford, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) and financed by the Berlin University Alliance in the framework of the OX I BUA Centre for Advanced Studies in the OX I BER Research Partnership.