8 June 2020

Social partner responses in the Nordic platform economy

This chapter maps the responses of Nordic trade unions and employers’ organizations to the platform economy.

Distinguishing between three political arenas where the social partners can seek influence – the unilateral, tripartite and bipartite arenas –the chapter shows that the Nordic actors have responded in a variety of ways and utilized several of the policy arenas available in the Nordic models. In all four countries, there are examples of tripartite responses addressing some of the challenges experienced in the platform economy, like access to unemployment benefits and health and safety issues. A few pioneer examples of collective bargaining in labour platform companies have emerged in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, lifting wage and working conditions either via new agreements or by utilizing existing sector-level agreements. Given the voluntarist tradition of the Nordic labour market models, such bipartite initiatives are especially noteworthy. In general, however, unions still find it hard to organize and mobilize platform workers, and the analysis suggests that platform companies are actually more inclined to organize than platform workers. Government-initiated re-regulation can help rein in unfair competition, but if the locus of regulation of platform work is moved into the unilateral, legislative arena, the scope for organization and voluntarist regulation may shrink.  Combining initiatives on all three arenas – bipartite, tripartite and unilateral – might therefore prove to be the most realistic strategy for developing encompassing, collective forms of regulation in new areas, such as the digital platform economy.

Read the full analysis 'Social partner responses in the Nordic platform economy' by Anna Ilsøe, Kristin Jesnes and Marianne Hotvedt. Chapter in the report Platform work in the Nordic models, publiced by the Nordic Council of Ministers.