New forms of work and European mobility

From 19 to 21 October 2018 was held a seminar about “New forms of work and European mobility”, organized by UNAIE (Unione Nazionale Associazione Immigrati e Emigrati), with the support of EZA and of the European Union. About 80 representatives of workers’ organizations from Belgium, Croatia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and Serbia participated in the seminar.

The seminar was divided in 4 sessions, each one focusing on a single perspective of the main topic “New forms of work and European mobility”.

During the first session was discussed the introduction at the topic. Alberto Tafner (President of Trentini nel Mondo association) opened the seminar explaining what the new forms of employment are. Nikhil Datta from United Kingdom (University College London and London School of Economics) spoke about the results of the Cross Section experiment, leaded on the GIG workers. The target of this analysis is the balance made by the GIG workers between precariousness and flexibility. Paolo Cagol from Italy (president of Eutopia association) discussed about precariousness concept and the different individual perceptions of it, depending on socio economic and cultural contests. Vittorino Rodaro from Italy (Directive board of PICM platform) talked about opportunity and precariousness connected to the pillar of social rights.

The second session, Saturday morning, hosted the speeches of workers trade union representatives and social dialogue experts. Jukka Ahtela from Finland (European Economic and Social Commission) spoke about the workers security and the necessity of mentality changing to guarantee the access to welfare at every worker, keeping the example of Finland. Rachele Berlese from Italy (ADAPT, Bergamo University), discussed the role of the social dialogue, and the different strategy adopted from the European country about the 4.0 industry.

Mario Grasso from Italy (UILTucs workers trade unions) spoke about the condition of the platform workers and the human cost of the GIG economy, he analyzed the problems and the low capacity of beggaring of this kind of workers. Manuela Terragnolo, who replaced Franco Ianeselli during the seminar, from Italy (CGIL workers trade union) spoke about the differences caused by new forms of employment in the workers life, moreover in the relationship among workers and between workers and trade unions, and how the trade unions have to change strategies and approach to lead this new reality.

The third session, Saturday afternoon, was focused on education, mobility phenomena and rights connected to the new forms of employment. Zak Kilhoffer from Belgium (Center European for Political Studies) discussed about the low access to welfare and social rights of the platform workers. Frederic Spagnolli from France (Franche-Comte University) explained how the university policy was changed in the last years according to the requirement of new skills from the labor market. Edith Pichler from Germany (Postdam University) spoke about European immigration in Germany and immigrant’s work conditions often employed with new forms of contract and the attempt made by the German government, she discussed also the high risk of new forms to become a social ghetto if they will not be regulated. Rumen Valchev from Bulgaria (Open Education Center Foundation) explained the Bulgarian situation concerning the very high mobility of young people and the regulation acted by govern under the pressure of workers trade union for controlling new forms of employment.

The fourth and last session, Sunday morning, was dedicated to the direct witnesses speeches and the debate among public and speakers. Davide dal Maso from Italy (Social Warining), social media coach and school trainer spoke about the educational problem linked to the new skills requested from the labor market, and explained the risk of the digital analphabetism and the deep lack of knowledge about the new technology, moreover of those who have to regulate it. He explained also the problems he had in the early time of his career because his profession didn’t exist yet. Manuel Bazzanella from Italy (Digital Mosaik) explained the administrative problems linked to a very patchy regulation of the high level technology professions, where bureaucratic and security laws can’t stay at the same speed of the digital updating. He spoke about the risk of the global cloud of workers and clients, the incompatibility of govern laws that often stuck the process and the low change of justice if something goes wrong with the virtual colleagues and customers. He explained also the Impact Hub realty, a startup incubator where the professionals share rooms and skills. Carol Leonardi and Marco Brun from Italy (Web4hit s.r.l) talked about the decision to lose the advantages offered by the platform works, as flexibility and mobility, for a more traditional way of work. That’s because of professional and social isolation suffered under the platform works, the low security and the impossibility to split private and work life. All the witnesses spoke about the disconnecting rights concept and the worse conditions of work and health with high stress disease due to the high risk to not be paid and the ever-reachable problem. All the witnesses after a period as casual GIG economy workers, change in a more traditional status, however still working in new digital jobs.

After this moment, there was the debate time, a lot of questions and ideas were shared, proofing that the topic is actual and crucial.

The seminar was concluded by Maurizio Tomasi who reflected about the topic and the different argumentations coming out in the three days, and lightening the key concepts: work dignity, regulation needs, avoid the social ghetto, precariousness, social rights. He focused the conclusion on the needs of regulation and the urgency to update the rules for the workers security in the new labor market under the GIG economy.

A real worries about future come out after these three days of seminar, and it was clear that the new forms of employment lead more disadvantages than advantages, moreover about social rights and feeling of security.

Social dialogue with trade unions, workers and experts is necessary to build a future where the workers can ride the opportunity of the new technology instead of be buried by it, and can live the advantages without fear. The policy and the workers trade unions have to change prospective, strategy and mentality according to the new labor market needs, and the European govern have to lead regulations of these new forms of casual works, poverty and social exclusion. The new forms of employment have to became an opportunity and not a ruin. Social rights, welfare access guarantee, minimum wage, security, right balance between work and private life, dignity. That’s the keys to the future of labor market.

At the seminar there were exponents of workers trade unions, Italian associations of emigrants and immigrants and researchers. They would bring to their regions speeches and debates about the new forms of employment, to spread the topic most important meanings. UNAIE doesn’t work directly with European institutions, but it can move and support the fair principles among the emigrants association in Italy and abroad. UNAIE can bring the topic to the Italian government, in support of the European citizens who live and work abroad, within European borders, thanks to the connection with CGIE (Consiglio generale degli italiani all’estero – General council of Italians living abroad). The topic has reached interest because of its urgency and actuality, and because this revolution involves everyone in more than one level.