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Home News Work and the 'platform economy': lessons for progressives

Work and the 'platform economy': lessons for progressives

22 July 2016
Work and the 'platform economy': lessons for progressives

The ‘platform economy’ is changing all of our lives as consumers, as demonstrated by the runaway success of platform businesses such as Airbnb and Uber. But such a radical change also has profound implications for workers – with insecurity and lack of protection an all-too-present danger. The impact is only set to grow as platform working pushes into yet more sectors. This provides progressives with a real dilemma – do we try and stand in the way of such a dynamic and growing part of the economy or can we adapt the models of social protection we hold so dear to the new reality?

That’s a debate Policy Network will be addressing in a new study examining future of work in Europe, which we are launching this week. The project seeks to provide a forward-looking assessment of labour market policies, analysing political and regulatory developments in key western European economies. It will also provide insight into how the debate over the future shape of work and social protection is playing out inside political parties, trade unions and business organisations.

Introducing this new project, Florian Ranft examines the often faltering steps progressives in several European countries, both in government and in opposition, have taken so far to try and keep up with the rapidly evolving pace of change from emerging tech. He argues that too often uncertainty over how to respond is resulting in inaction and lost opportunity.

Going forward, parties of the centre left will need to try and square the circle between the new breed of metropolitan digital workers who regard themselves as progressives and their traditional blue-collar base, which often bears the brunt of the disruptive consequences. Looking at Denmark, Johnny Runge asks if such a conflict means social democrats risk ceding the label of ‘workers' party’ to rightwing populists.

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