Online Platforms, Platform Work & Platform Workers in Nordic countries and Germany: What can we learn from each other?

This online-event on platform economy in the Nordics and Germany took place on June 8. The recording of the event is now available.

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Online Platforms, Platform Work & Platform Workers in Nordic Countries and Germany: What can we learn from each other?

Platform economy began to emerge in Nordic countries – as in Germany and the rest of Europe - in the mid-2000s due to rapidly developing technological innovations and emergency of new business models. International online platforms such as Foodora, Hilf or Wolt have their headquarters or were founded in Nordic countries, whereas in Germany – Gorillas and Delivery Heroes were founded.

Even if the size of platform economy in Nordic countries and Germany is increasing, there is not much known about online platforms and platform work e.g., number of online platforms or socio-demographic characteristics of platforms workers. In both cases, the lack of regulations has drastic consequences for platform workers, who work often under precarious conditions.

In Finland, platforms are not discussed as a separate sphere needing special regulations. In Sweden, the most common issues in the debate are working conditions, employment security, decent pay, excessive control and surveillance, and collective agreements for platform companies. Unlike in other countries, in Denmark, in 2021, a collective agreement was reached with the food delivery platforms Just Eat, COOP FOOD and FØTEX together with a public campaign on fair transport, fair prices and fair working conditions.

In the case of Norway, there is currently no consensus on whether online platform companies are to be considered employers in Norway. According to Norwegian labour law, employment status is to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Platform companies vary in terms of the extent to which workers are dependent on, and subordinated to, the companies, the core criteria for determining employment status in Norwegian labour law.

In Germany, even if platform work has not received much attention in the public debate, many issues relating to digital transformation have been discussed under the caption of Industry 4.0 by industry representatives and state actors. The importance of data protection at the workplace has had a particularly prominent place in the public debate. Various parties and trade unions have been calling for an employee data-protection law in addition to the requirements laid down in the GDPR.

The issue of online platforms and platform work are also currently a subject to the legislative process at the EU-level (e.g., Directive on improving working conditions in platform work or Digital Service Act).

This joint event by FES Future of Work and FES Nordics aimed to address the issue of platform work, online platforms and platform workers in Nordic countries and Germany and discuss important questions such as:

What are the main similarities and differences between Nordic countries and Germany in terms of platform economy and platform work, e.g., profits and users, but also socio-demographic characteristics and working conditions of platform workers?

What are the key features of the regulatory landscape of platform economy in Nordic countries? What best-practice examples can be highlighted for comparison?

What is the role of Trade Unions in the protection of platform workers? What are the initiatives to support platform workers, including trade unions, other civil society organisations and informal groups, as well as public institutions and local governments? How can Trade Unions address intersectionality related to migration and gender?

The FES Competence Centre ‘Future of Work’ initiated an international research project that aims to capture the existing platform economy landscape in over 30 countries (EU member-states/associated countries) with a focus on the regulatory landscape of platform economy at national level, online platforms and platform work, collective bargaining and initiatives to protect platform workers and relevant court cases. The results of this project are accessible in form of interactive maps, factsheets and policy brief. The results for the Nordic countries will be presented and discussed during a joined event by the FES Competence Centre ‘Future of Work’ and FES Nordics.


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