Fairness: development of new forms of work, self-employment and social protection in EU countries

From 23 to 25 May 2019 took place in Jurmala / Latvia a seminar about “Fairness: development of new forms of work, self-employment and social protection in EU countries”, organized by LKrA (Latvijas Kristīga Akadēmija) with the support of EZA and of the European Union. The seminar was part of the EZA project co-ordination about “Future of work – changing labour relations”.

86 representatives of workers’ organisations from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Germany were present.

The project contributed to the complex problem of qualitative and innovative understanding of the new forms of work and labour innovations in general. European Commission forwarded proposal (March 13, 2018) to achieve social fairness in two areas: 1) free movement of workers between European countries, based on European Labour Authority; 2) to guarantee effective access to social protection in new forms of work and self-employed people. Second aspect of most importance were discussion around European Pillar of Social Rights, which encompasses principles that need to be upheld across the EU and also the Baltic States.

Experts analysed labour market innovations, modest social protection examples and analysis of the reality of the “grey zone” employment between genuine self-employment and subordinate employment in the Baltic States, and presented it in comparison with European dimension in the seminar. Special attention was paid to atypical forms of employment in the EU, usually characterized by non-standard working time, specific employment contracts and less common labour relations. Discussion was organized of the current state of labour market EU countries.

Participants of the seminar visited leading Scandinavian and Baltic States IT software company VISMA Enterprise, which gave possibility to learn the practice of digitalization of jobs, future trends of modern employment, and new kinds of remote services. There was organized a discussion on the role of trade unions in the modern labour market. It was concluded that the role of social partners should be emphasized: there is still low trust to trade unions, great need for educated workers, and more contribution to be done of employers being involved in the economic debate of the EU.

Project was of importance because of processes of globalization in labour market, digitalization of modern labour relations, and because “grey zone” employment due to the labour force migration in the EU, precarious forms of employment, and changing labour relations (small enterprise dominate, more individualized work, intensive work, vanish of collective interests, work digitalization, remote work, posting, platform work, crowd work).

Topics were discussed in connection to the main issues of the project – “Fairness: Development of New forms of work, self-employment and social protection in EU countries. Future of Work: Changes in Labour Relations”.

Presentation of six European projects in the frame of the work of EZA about “Future of work – Changing Labour Relations”; Reflections on labour market development in Latvia in comparison to European dimension; Economical situation: labour market and future prognosis of labour development in the context of the EU; Modernisation of labour relations: main dimensions of labour relations in the EU; Future of work in Estonia: on the way to flexibility and self-realization; Legitimate Online Work and home job for men and women as a challenge: mission (im)possible(?) in the EU; A self-employed tax-payer and social security; The problem of the lack of workforce and innovative forms of solution; The impact of modern technologies, digitalization, and new labour forms in enterprise: remote work, crowd work, flexible work, etc.

We would like to mention academician, Dr.oec. Raita Karnīte, President of Centre of Economical Prognosis (LV), Dr.oec. Oļegs Krasnopjorovs, Senior economist of Department of Analysis of Macroeconomics, Monetary Policy Department, Bank of Latvia – they presented macro- and microeconomic overview of EU countries as a background knowledge for changes in labour relations in modern Europe. Of importance was the report of advisor from Latvia to European Economic and Social Committee Mrs. Pēteris Krīgers, former president of Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia – on modern situation in Latvian labour market. Mr. Aimar Altosaar, President of NGO “The Golden League” (EE) gave report on modern labour forms. In its turn, Dr., prof. Elvyra Aciene reported on remote work possibilities in Lithuania and other European countries bridging academic and job market needs, as well as the situation with employability of graduates.

Seminar analysed also aspects of social protection of new labor forms: that was presented by Mrs. Lidija Dārziņa, analyst of legal acts of the Latvian Government official publisher “Latvijas Vēstnesis” (“Herald of Latvia”) and Mrs. Eva Selga, the President of Latvian Association for People Management.

Very special was field trip to the leading Nordic countries’ IT company Visma Enterprise, where General director Mrs. Antra Zālīte presented effective solutions for automatization of administrative and business process in enterprise, showing the future of new labour forms that are impacted by automatization and digitalization of work environment.


Two days before seminar questionnaires were distributed to seminar participants who have confirmed their attendance. Questionnaire were of two kinds for two groups. During informative presentations in situ, the participants from different trade unions were asked to find solutions for topical questions and submit them during the second seminar day. 36 answers were received. Both groups showed that new labour forms are fascinating phenomenon but hard to understand from the perspective of social protection and work record keeping. The questions were raised also in connection to the comparison of indicators of economic situation. Main conclusion was that economic expansion continues but imbalances between labour demand and labour supply remain. Many don’t understand, which sectors and occupations are in high demand if there are still many sectors with high unemployment in it.

Public consultations for the TU representatives on the topic will be organized in Latvian Christian Academy.

Through the years seminars of EZA have become mediators for building up platform and regular cooperation network for different specialists from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland to present analysis of the social dialogue interconnections with workers from different organizations, university members and politicians, government members – for promotion and boosting the development of the European Social Model. The seminars have become a bridge for dialogue between Trade Unions and academic analysts, and different relevant stakeholders.

All participants of the seminar were encouraged to realize in their daily work: Responsibility for conducting an atmosphere of openness, trust and innovative attitude towards new labour forms to complete the Europe-2020 improvement goals and call for protective Europe ready to assume all its responsibilities regarding fairness and labour market development.

All participants of the seminar supported the opinion that seminar was of relevant theoretical and practical value. The great role was the field trip to Visma Enterprises to see and understand key issues of labour market innovations through digitalization of inner systems of enterprise. Everyone got knowledge on digitalization, administrative and business modelling, and the effective use of institutional resources. Seminar served as a pool of knowledge for thinking about how to combine Europe 2020 goals with globalization and the model of labour and personal life of a concrete person.