Fairwork partners with Sapienza University of Rome to study the platform economy in Italy

Posted on 07.12.2021
Delivery Riders
MikeDotta /

In the last few years, Italy has experienced a significant increase in both the number and activity of digital platforms, which now involve a wide range of sectors and workers. In a context marked by dualisms and persistent social division, the digital transition has increased workers’ vulnerability and job insecurity, due to a lack of dedicated social protections and the weakness of platform workers’ collective bargaining position.  

More recently, Italy introduced dedicated legislation for platform workers. This forced platforms, especially those operating in the food delivery and logistics sectors, to improve working conditions and pay. At the same time, both long-established trade unions and new autonomous grassroots movements are intensifying actions and collective bargaining. Their aims are to counteract discrimination and outsourcing by promoting workers’ voices and access to platforms’ decision-making processes.  

Despite some initial distrust and conflict, trade unions and self-organised or grassroots movements have begun to enhance mutual cooperation. These organisations are now mobilising non-standard workers to ensure adequate collective rights. Platform workers face serious obstacles to exercising their collective voice because of their uncertain legal status. Furthermore, despite the fact that many workers are categorised as self-employed, in reality, they are in in a subordinate position. The misclassification of these workers as self-employed means they lack the social protections and bargaining power of employed workers. 

 In Italy, the Fairwork Project will be led by Sapienza University of Rome. Sapienza University of Rome has already done research on digital platforms in Italy, particularly in the fields of care services and food delivery. The Sapienza unit is currently involved in a research project on domestic and care work mediated by digital platforms. As in other European countries, the “uberisation” of care is an emerging issue, with consequences that need to be analysed in-depth, specially concerning working conditions and strategies of representation. The team is also thenational contact point for Italy of the ERC AdG ResPecTMe. The ResPecTMeproject is coordinated by Valeria Pulignano (Ceso, Ku leuven), principle investigator of the Fairwork Belgium team. 

 The Fairwork Italy team is composed of Andrea Ciarini, Luisa de Devita, Antonio Corasaniti and Marta D’onofrio at the Department of Social and Economic Sciences of the Sapienza University of Rome. The project, which will start in December 2021, is supported by all the Italian trade union confederations: the CGIL, CISL and UIL. The research team will also collaborate with autonomous organisations and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to raise awareness of the poor working conditions in the platform economy.