Track 1: Social Europe: Equality and Poverty

The idea of Social Europe is widely associated with strong labour market institutions and employment relations which largely contribute to comparatively high levels of social protection and low inequality. Trust in European institutions and the commitment to build a better future are not necessarily taken for granted as the rise of populist parties in many European countries seems to challenge the European idea. In addition, during recent decades Europe has been faced by growing social and economic disparities both within and between regions and states but also by persistent gaps between sexes as well as between migrant and native workers. Although the reasons for growing inequalities are complex and manifold, changes in labour market institutions and the power relations of the social partners are widely regarded as one major cause for this development.

Workshop: Precarious work. The challenge for labour law in Europe


  • Izabela Florczak, University of Lodz
  • Marta Otto, University of Lodz

Precarious work is one of the core concerns in Europe, where the proliferation of new types of employment without the whole spectrum of rights associated with the standard employment relationship has engendered considerable labour market fragmentation and social polarisation. Precarious work, such as in the ‘gig economy’, poses unique challenges to the European social model of secure employment and decent social protection, to which the launch of a European Pillar of Social Rights is a belated but important response.

The workshop is devoted to the presentation of the book Precarious Work. The Challenge for Labour Law in Europe, J. Kenner J, I. Florczak & M. Otto (eds), (Edward Elgar, 2019, forthcoming). The book provides a comparative analysis of the legal and social policy challenges arising from the creation and spread of precarious work in various countries in Europe. It aims to contribute to an improved comparative understanding of one of the main facets of risk to the European social model. It not only elucidates the main characteristics and current dynamics of precarious employment regulation in Europe, but also offers invaluable insight into the potential methods of addressing this phenomenon through improved labour regulation.

The relevant research study positions itself at the intersections of European and national dimensions of labour law. Its findings should be of interest to scholars and the ever-growing number of students researching in European and Comparative Labour Law and the phenomenon of precarity. In addition, by surveying the recent activities of the broadly understood European judicatory as well as legislature, it can prove a valuable resource also for practitioners and policymakers in international and regional organisations, governments, employers’ bodies, trade unions and NGOs.

Workshop: The impact of the gig economy on the transformation of employment relations: EU and EAEU compared


  • Kirill Tomashevski, International University “MITSO“, Minsk
  • Nikita Lyutov, Moscow State Law Kutafin University

The general idea of the proposed workshop is to compare academic views, legal experience and practice regarding the transformation of employment relations in regional integration projects: EU (presented by authors from Germany, Estonia and Spain) and EAEU (experts from Belarus and Russia) with an idea to propose some vision of similar and divergent trends of development in two regions and their member states.

The challenges of the gig economy to the employment relations in the EU states have longer experience compared to the EAEU states. Nevertheless, both regions have faced rather similar problems in this respect. Non-standard and ‘new’ forms of employment such as work via online platforms, crowdsourcing, work on call, etc. are widespread in both regions, and one of the main reasons of their existence is the emergence of the gig economy.

In all countries under discussion these non-standard forms of employment cause the blurring distinction between the employment and civil-law relations.
The practice in the EU courts is far from uniformity in the qualification of the relations of self-employed citizens as labour or civil law model. Are they covered by social security regulations or not? These issues will be discussed in the reports of G. Tavits from Estonia and O. Chesalina from Germany.

One of the most problematic areas of the gig economy influence on the labour rights is collective bargaining. This issue will be discussed by T. Bazzani from Pompeu Fabra University (Spain). This report will focus both on the problems of the recognition of the “voice” of these workers and on comment of the recent decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CM/ResChS(2018)11), which seems to bring a relevant contribution in ending restrictions on collective bargaining for the self-employed persons.

Russian and Belarusian labour law is heavily rooted in the Soviet past. The legislation concerning the identification of employment relationship is not an exception to this rule. Traditional approach of the Labour Codes in post-Soviet counties towards the distinction between labour and civil law contract is based on the understanding that labour law regulates the law as the process and employer instructs the employee how the work must be done, while civil law deals only with material results of work. Nevertheless, such distinction is losing its applicability in context of transformation of the types of work and growing number of forms of atypical employment.

Similarly as in the EU countries, the transformation of Russian and Belarusian labour law in the post-Soviet time shows the clear trend to differentiation and fragmentation with constantly growing number of special norms covering specific (atypical) types of employment relationships. At the same time modern labour law in EAEU states (for instance, Russia and Kazakhstan) reflects only some of recently appearing flexible forms of employment, such as temporary agency work or remote work. Other modern types of atypical work, such as job sharing or work via online platforms remain outside of scope of labour legislation. The borderline between the work as independent contractor and employment in many cases becomes more and more obscure, and it is not surprising that case law doesn’t show much uniformity in cases of distinguishing the fact of existence of employment relation. The reports of Russian researchers S. Shuraleva and N. Lyutov will investigate the new legislation in this sphere in Russia and first steps of legislators from Kazakhstan and Belarus, as well as comparability of these steps with the EU experience.

Investigating and transforming resonance (RESet)

Philipp Gies, Center for Labour and Political Education (zap), University of Bremen

» Full paper: ilera-2019-paper-209-Gies.pdf

In our research project RESet at the Center for Labour and Political Education (zap) at the University of Bremen we look at the current crisis of democracy and representation in Germany. From this we investigate the results of individual and societal frictions as well as experiences of exclusion and marginalization within the society. (Decker 2016; Bofinger et al. 2012) We recognize a strong connection between societal and political exclusion on the one hand an (in-)stability of employment relations on the other. (For instances as results from digitalization of work, increase of atypical employment, growing precarization and the lasting risk of unemployment and hence risk of poverty.) We analyze the relation of persons towards their work and towards the democratic system in the context of Hartmut Rosas resonance theory.  Following the empirical studies we aim to highlight  possibilities of (political) adult education to react and change current developments.

The concept “resonance“ comprises a certain modus of relation of each individual towards their environment, like political structures, workplace, civil society or simply towards other individuals. It is a reciprocal answer-relation, meaning both sides act with their own voice and reacting to each other. The opposite of resonance thus is alienation.

We expect that the postulated political crisis emerges both from a rising alienation - in the sense of the two sides not recognizing and understanding each other - and individually lacking participation of citizens – resulting from an absence of competences and/or missing engagement from institutions. Increasingly both sides do not recognize each other and will not foster the necessary reciprocal answer-relation. (Rosa 2016: 298) We see continuous and stable employment relations as one central factor against alienation within the society. It is - seen as standard employment relation - providing material resources, delivering capabilities, offering interactions and possibly meaningful work activities. Thus, endowing the individual a position and identification within society. The loss of work or even a precarious situation compromises (or even cuts) these possibilities of being part of the resonance relation. (Rosa 2012) Failing to balance the role of work through other social and cultural spheres individuals tend towards isolation, apathy and radicalization against society.

The diverse social status groups are affected differently. Especially unemployed, people in precarious situations and people bound to the low-wage sector bear a higher risk of feeling (and being) excluded and marginalized from society.  (Dörre et al. 2013, Bernhard 2016) Being hardly equipped with material resources, having hardly securities to plan ahead and often without (employee) representation, has a likely impact on self-efficacy. One reason could be that precarious work relations won't lead towards the nexus of voice and entitlement – meaning the comprehensible entanglement of articulating ones interest (voice) and gaining on the other hand effective rights and obligations (entitlement) on  democratic terms. Without that nexus decisions are likely not representing ones own interests. And in general societal developments can't be perceptible and  acceptable, which would be the core for a functioning relation between individual and society. (Mückenberger 2010)

Hence, we investigate and work together with long-term unemployed. We expect that the perception of societal participation is strongly influenced by the opportunities to work and thus reflecting self-esteem and personal competences.  Additionally, we interview experts of state institutions and work related measures to gain insight of the other side connected to the answer-relation between individual and society.

In a wider development, we see changes through the digitalization of the working environment, leading to restructuring new developments of whole industrial sectors. In the civil society it leads for one part to a digital social space in which communications, opinions and arguments can be gained and distributed on online platforms. Training political and social digital competences takes an ever greater role in education and measures for unemployed, especially with regard to   the labor market and societal/political participation. We advocate the use of digital tools in the context of (adult) education and trainings.  Therefore, we highlight and test in our research transfer experimental methods to co-create corresponding tools.

We want to set up more positive resonance relations as we believe that these help to strengthen the integration of and identification with democratic societies. Succeeding in giving all groups of society likewise the perception and affiliation of resonance allows for stabilizing democracy in its entirety. And so we hope to gain insight on current resonance relations of the German society and to understand the effect of frictions and alienations between individuals, society and politics. Consequently, we try to evaluate following questions: At which times can an individual friction lead to an alienation with society itself? What are the central factors stopping or accelerating these developments? How can, given further digitalization, new (digital) societal relations be established? Which impact have employment relations on societal participation? How can our findings transfer in practical approaches of adult education? And which impact can digital tools have in this field? With nearly two years of research in September 2019 we want to answer some of these questions within track 1 of the ILERA 2019.


  • Bernhard, Chr. (2016): Materielle Lebensbedingungen im Grundsicherungsbezug. in: Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (Edit.), Krisenerfahrung Hartz IV: Lebenssituationen im Grundsicherungsbezug. Schwerpunktheft. WSI Mitteilungen, No. 69 (5), Düsseldorf, 344–352.
  • Bofinger, P.; Habermas, J.; Nida-Rümelin, J. (2012): Einspruch gegen die Fassadendemokratie, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 03.08.2012, [24.01.2019].
  • Decker, F. (2016): Demokratie ohne Wähler, Politik ohne Bürger. Neue Herausforderungen für die Politikwissenschaft, in: Gallus, A. (Edit.), Politikwissenschaftliche Passagen. Deutsche Streifzüge zur Erkundung eines Faches, Baden-Baden, 109–128.
  • Dörre, K.; Scherschel, K.; Booth, M.; Haubner, T.; Marquardsen, K.; Schierhorn, K. (Edit.) (2013): Bewährungsproben für die Unterschicht? Soziale Folgen aktivierender Arbeitsmarktpolitik, Frankfurt am Main.
  • Mückenberger, U. (2010): Demokratische Einhegung der Globalisierung? Neue Akteurskonstellationen bei universellen Normbildungsprozessen, in: KJ Kritische Justiz, No. 43 (1), 38–45.
  • Rosa, H. (2012): Arbeit und Entfremdung, in: Dörre, K.; Sauer, D.; Wittke, V. (Edit.), Kapitalismustheorie und Arbeit. Neue Ansätze soziologischer Kritik, , Frankfurt am Main, 410–420.
  • – (2016): Resonanz. Eine Soziologie der Weltbeziehung, Berlin.

RESet Homepage

That is just part of being able to do my cool job

Working conditions and interest formulation in self-enterprising sectors in the Netherlands

Wike M. Been, University of Amsterdam

Future projections of how the labour market is going to function imagine workers to be highly networked individuals, running their personal ‘self’ as an enterprise and collaborating within temporary project coalitions. The creative industries are often seen as the test ground where these kinds of models are already implemented, as they are characterized by project-based work, portfolio careers, temporary collaborations, a high self-employment rate and a centrality of entrepreneurship. Even though some see this as the model of work for the future, others point out the often low job quality for workers in the creative industries. With the exception of the view lucky individuals who ‘score a hit’, work in the creative industry is in many instances precarious and insecure, with relatively low pay, high volatility and inadequate access to social security, so is reported in the literature. Accordingly, it presents serious problems in terms of working conditions. Nevertheless, at the same time it is reported that many perceive high job quality regardless these poor working conditions. Poor working conditions not necessarily coinciding with an experience of low job quality is in the literature explained by a potential trade-off taking place between different aspects of job quality such as pay against a high level of autonomy and creativity, aspects that are expected to be highly valued by those working in the creative industries. This might also have consequences for the way workers formulate their interests posing a potential challenge for trade unions to organize employees. In this study we focus on understanding the potential trade-off taking place between working conditions and what this means for how workers formulate their interests.

We depart from typical individual and industry characteristics. Workers in the creative industries are often described as high intrinsically motivated and having a great passion for what they do. The highly intrinsically motivated creatives are willing to compromise on their wages and working conditions in exchange for the opportunity to do the work they aspire to do, so the argument goes in the literature. If it is seen as a price that has to be paid to be able to do this type of work and workers see it as an inescapable characteristic and thus have a priori expectations about the working conditions upon entering the sector (and decide it is worth it), working conditions are removed from being topics of conflict in the workplace and enter the realm of individual decision making. This in turn makes it less likely that they will argue for better conditions both individually and collectively. In addition, in the hit-driven and networked labour markets characterized by portfolio careers, failure or success –also in terms of income- becomes highly personal and one’s own responsibility. Again, when it is perceived a personal responsibility, workers are unlikely to argue for better conditions.

Even though the creative industries are often addressed as one industry, there is actually quite some variation between and within its different subsectors. In order to be able to take variation into account, we systematically compare the graphic design industry and the games industry in the Netherlands. Both industries are characterized by traits of the labour market of the future. Neither industry has a collective agreement in place. Nevertheless, the organization of work seems to vary quite a bit, with many freelance workers in the graphic design industry whereas most workers in the games industry are employees. Semi-structured interviews were held with employees, freelance workers and employers in both industries (25 interviews in total), complemented with interviews at the institutional level (15 interviews).

Preliminary results show that there is quite some income variation with the highest volatility among starting freelance workers in the graphic design industry and starting entrepreneurs and Indie game developers in the games industry. One of the explanations lies indeed on the level of typical worker characteristics of those working in the creative industries: by being a freelance worker or having one’s own Indie game company, workers have large autonomy over their work: something that they value highly. However, the other side of it is that they often also have no other option than to work as a freelance worker or to start their own company if they want to work in the industry (something that they want badly because of their intrinsic motivation for the work), because there are so few employee positions available for the number of people interested (oversupply of labour). In the graphic design industry this related to the organization of the work: a large part of the industry exists out of freelance workers, whereas in the games industry this is caused by it being still a small industry, although growing, compared to the number of people that graduate from game related educational tracks.

Whether income volatility is perceived as problematic depends highly on the safety net workers perceive: if they have back up options, for example ‘hotel mama’, a partner with a steady income or regard the basic social security schemes sufficient to cover their costs of living; they do not regard their low income problematic. For these workers, the high job quality caused by other aspects of the work, such as high autonomy, possibility for self-realization and creativity, are more important. But even when workers perceive it as problematic, they often see it as a given tribute of working in the sector. It is therefore perceived as their ‘own choice’ and something they can only change by making their company successful not as something they can change by collective organization. Trade unions and professional organizations recognize this and try to reach out to workers by offering services.

Labour mobility in the gig-economy

Implementation of the principle of free movement of labour in the EU and the EAEU

Gaabriel Tavits, University of Tartu

The notion of platform work in the gig-economy is not a new notion any more. It is possible to work without grossing the border, but still the applicable legislation will change. According to the rules of the International private law, the applicable legislation to the employment contract will be determined by the habitual place of work. It is questionable, what is the habitual place of work in case of platform-employment – is it the geographical identity of the domain or something else? In case there is no need for physical movement any more, does the switching between the different platforms mean already the free movement or is this situation something special?

Rethinking the notion of employer for the gig-economy

On the example of platform work in the transportation sector: Russian and EU experience compared

Olga Chesalina, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

Platforms have adopted specific procedures to avoid the classification of platform workers as employees, e.g., by involving partner companies. Due to the formal approach of the Russian courts concerning the existence of an employment relationship, both the platform and the partner company could escape responsibility. Which new approaches and measures are required to prevent circumvention of labour and social law regulations by platforms? What can be learned from the EU experience, where first cases concerning the classification of platform workers were decided by the courts?

Collective bargaining for workers in the gig economy

A path towards fair working conditions

Tania Bazzani, Faculty of Law, HU Berlin

Considering the difficulties to look for ways to represent platform workers and their interests, this report will focus both on the problems and need to recognize “voice” to these workers and to a recent decision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CM/ResChS(2018)11), which seems to bring a relevant contribution in ending restrictions on collective bargaining for self-employed persons.

Remote work

Comparison of legislation and practice in the EAEU countries

Svetlana Shuraleva, Perm State University

The gig economy affects the labour market, making it truly global. Atypical employment relationships are evolving rapidly, including remote work. Harmonization of remote work legislation will contribute to the further EAEU states economic integration. The report is devoted to a comparative analysis of the remote work legislation in the EAEU countries. Approaches to the remote work definition, the parties and conditions of the remote work employment contract are considered. The positions of judicial bodies on controversial aspects of the remote work are analysed.

Social security protection for new self-employment in the Italian system

Criticalities, aporias and prospects for reform

Giovanna Pistore, University of Padova

The raise of new professions imposes a rethinking of social security systems, traditionally focused on the figure of the permanent employee. New self-employment, on the other hand, is still devoid of identity, in a middle ground where the demands of protection of the category often clash with ancient legacies, anchored to traditional professions and small entrepreneurial work.

The social security consideration of self-employment is based on a legal and sociological misunderstanding that identifies the professional with his own economic activity, disregarding his being a person, and as such a subject worthy of protection in the face of risk events that can occur during working life. To this we must add that in the prism of the great transformation of work, and specifically in relation to the new works connected to Gig Economy, the same categories are disoriented and, in some respects, insufficient before a composite universe of relationships marked by different bargaining forces, which makes it difficult to univocally re-establish them within the framework of traditional social security models.

It is no coincidence that in the matter several recent proposals have been put forward in the Italian legal order, which according to variable geometries have tried to give new form to the system.

In particular, the legislator intervened with Law no. 81/2017, whose Chapter I intends to carry out a review by introducing more contractual and welfare protections for not-entrepreneurial self-employment, following a protectionist point of view in which the worker is regarded as a weak subject in need of protection. Before this discipline, from some defined a new "statute of self-employment", it is necessary to point out another provision, that has not been adequately valued, but is fundamental considering its systemic intersections: Law no. 4/2013, concerning professions not organized in Guilds and Colleges, which profoundly affects the representation of this kind of work and redraws the geography of the access to profession and its exercise, in order to guarantee free competition through the promotion of skills.

The aim of the paper is to outline a possible social security statute for new self-employment, trying to bring the various regulatory fragments back to system and to propose future interventions, through a rereading without preconceptions of the traditional social security categories. The view will be twofold, since the solutions provided under the compulsory occupational insurance and the supplementary one will be considered jointly, in the wake of a reciprocal dialogue and integration between the two strands.

The analysis will take place in three steps full of deep interconnections. Starting from the identification of the protected subjects, we will try to understand how to implement the social security guarantee and finally to see, from the point of view of the working risk factors, which are the present dystonias and the solutions that could close the gaps in the system.


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