Decent work for all: social dialogue in the age of the gig economy

International Labour Organisation

The future of decent work is emerging as a policymaking priority across a variety of contexts and among a number of major stakeholders, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. One organisation that has placed the issue of decent work at the very core of its agenda is the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year the ILO has sought to mark its centenary by reaffirming its commitment to decent work and social justice. As part of its objective to better understand the future of work the ILO has also been investigating the changes- often driven by technology - that have taken place in recent years to the types of work that is on offer to workers across the globe.

It was in this context that on 22nd May 2019 colleagues from the SIRIUS project, alongside researchers from Germany, Greece and Switzerland as well as representatives from the ILO, participated in a one day policy workshop in Geneva to discuss the challenges that the gig economy poses for social dialogue both in the UK and globally. In a session alongside ILO Deputy Director General for Policy Deborah Greenfield, and technical experts on freedom of association and collective bargaining, the Bureau of Employers’ Activities and the Bureau of Workers’ Activities, Dr Tom Montgomery from Glasgow Caledonian University elaborated upon findings involving interviews with policymakers, trade union activists and gig economy workers in the UK and highlighted some of the specific challenges that the gig economy can pose for migrant workers. Dr Maria Mexi also joined colleagues from Germany and senior officials from the ILO, including the coordinator of the Future of Work initiative, to discuss how the gig economy was impacting upon labour markets in Greece.

Participating in the Final Round table of the conference Professor Simone Baglioni, Principal investigator and Coordinator of the Sirius project - who was joined by senior researchers and economists from the ILO, including the organisation’s Director for Research, Damien Grimshaw, and former EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou - reflected upon the key themes that emerged from the research findings and the implications these findings have for the future of decent work. 

The conference which was hosted by the ILO comes at a time when the SIRIUS project is preparing for its next phase of research that will focus on the role of social partners in the labour market integration of migrants, refugees and asylum applicants.