Labour and work in the modern economy | New SPERI and openDemocracy collaboration

SPERI and openDemocracy have launched a new collaboration to explore the themes of labour rights and worker organisation in the modern economy.  Work for many people is changing fast with concerns about low pay, casualisation and insecurity central to current policy debates. Issues and questions connected to the ‘gig economy’ and ‘platform-working’ have increasingly come to dominate academic and policy discussions about the nature of work in the modern economy.

Our new collaboration with openDemocracy will explore these themes and will be led by Tom Hunt, SPERI’s Policy Research officer. The first part of the collaboration will see a new series of articles on these themes published jointly on the SPERI Comment blog and openDemocracy’s Beyond Slavery and Trafficking hub. The hub explores issues of labour, work and exploitation and was founded and is co-edited by Genevieve LeBaron,  SPERI Research Fellow and leader of our research programme on ‘Labour and Work in the Global Political Economy’.

Tom is curating the new series and has written the first article in the series which you can read here.

Over the coming weeks the series will feature a range of contributions from expert authors from organisations including the International Labour Organisation, the Resolution Trust and the New Economics Foundation.  Contributions will also come from leading academics working in this field and crucially from those in the labour movement who represent today’s workforce.  They will include long-established pro-labour organisations like the Trades Union Congress as well as smaller, newer organisations like the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).  The authors will examine questions such as:

  • How are trade unions and new pro-worker organisations, in the UK and around the world, adapting to the ‘gig economy’?
  • What lessons can UK workers and trade unions learn from alternative forms of worker representation around the world and new forms of organising?
  • How can technology be used by unions and workers to enhance rights and achieve pro-labour outcomes?
  • Do terms such as ‘employee, ‘self-employed’, ‘worker’ and ‘freelancer’ adequately describe today’s jobs and offer appropriate legal protections?
  • Are more flexible, non-standard forms of employment changing people’s attitudes towards work – especially younger workers entering the workforce today?

To find out more please contact Tom Hunt