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New report: Mapping platform work in the Nordic countries

News | 27 May 2020 | Alf Tore Bergsli

Platform work can be seen as one important case in which many key aspects of the changing world of work coalesce. As part of the ongoing project Nordic Future of Work, this report explores the development of platform work in the Nordic countries and the central issues of concern related to it.

The report also connects some of the themes explored in the other research subjects in the project, such as digitalization, new forms of employment and the legal and regulatory challenges currently faced by the social partners, governments and Nordic labour market models.

The pan-Nordic project as well as the report is commissioned by The Nordic Council of Ministries and led by Fafo.

The platform economy is built on a business model functioning as a mere intermediary between the worker and the customer. Usually classifying workers as self-employed, the algorithmic management of the platform applications regulates pay, terms and conditions.

While remaining a marginal phenomenon in the Nordic countries, digital platforms through which workers sell their labour power have emerged and been able to establish themselves within certain industries in the Nordic labour market models. These industries varies in terms of the goods and services sold, but are generally characterized by low union density and collective agreement coverage, and relative normalization of self-employment and piecework, i.e. industries where the regulations of working conditions and pay that generally characterize the Nordic models are relatively weak. 

After a brief introduction to platform work, the report maps the main issues of concern raised by platform work within the Nordic models (Chapter 2). The following two chapters provides two case studies of platform work in the Nordic countries: First, a case study of the transportation platform Uber, analysing its trajectory in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and the working conditions of Uber drivers in Helsinki and Oslo (Chapter 3). Second, a case study of technical translators working through online platforms, an example of high-skilled platform work (Chapter 4).

Although often operating in the fringes of the Nordic labour market model, there are examples of collective agreements in the platform economy as well: The next chapter (Chapter 5) explores the Foodora agreement in Norway and the Hilfr agreement in Denmark. Chapter 6 analyzes the Nordic trade unions’ and employers’ organizations’ responses to platform work more generally. Finally, the report concludes by summarizing the findings and discussing the potential avenues for regulating platform work in the Nordic countries, arguing that a diversity of regulatory strategies and policy tools are likely to be applied to incorporate platform work into the Nordic models (Chapter 7).

Publisert: 27 May 2020