Trade unions and platform workers in the UK: worker representation in the shadow of the law

Bertolini, A. and Dukes, R. (2021) Trade unions and platform workers in the UK: worker representation in the shadow of the law. Industrial Law Journal, 50(4), pp. 662-688. (doi: 10.1093/indlaw/dwab022)

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Drawing on a series of interviews with key actors including representatives of the main trade unions, this paper considers the response of unions in the UK to the emergence and growth of platform work. Comparing the partly different strategies adopted by traditional and alternative unions in respect of the representation of platform workers’ interests, it demonstrates that the unions’ choices have been shaped by the characteristics and resources of the unions themselves, by prevailing political conditions and, perhaps above all, by the restrictive legal framework that excludes many platform workers from the scope of employment legislation. Without recourse to either a legally protected freedom to take industrial action or the statutory recognition procedure, unions have only exceptionally been able to negotiate collective agreements on behalf of platform workers. Instead, traditional unions have focussed on broader political strategies to fight precariousness, including wielding an influence on policymaking, especially through their relations with the Labour Party. Alternative unions have channelled resources into organising and mobilising platform workers and supporting them in campaigning, protesting and bringing strategic litigation.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The research for this paper received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 757395).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bertolini, Dr Alessio and Dukes, Professor Ruth
Authors: Bertolini, A., and Dukes, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Industrial Law Journal
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1464-3669
Published Online:22 October 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Industrial Law Journal 50(4): 662-688
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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