On 28th June at 7 pm CEST time, East Left Media Outlet – ELMO invites you to participate in an online roundtable about platform-based gig work in Central Eastern Europe. The event will be live-streamed on the organizers’ Facebook pages and you can also join the Zoom meeting here: https://zoom.us/j/96592804162 (meeting ID: 965 9280 4162).
The starting point of the roundtable is to bring to the forefront main features of platform-based gig work in Central-Eastern-Europe (CEE). Invited researchers, journalists, activists and artists engaged with this topic will map out key questions and methods of researching on and engaging with platform-based gig work in the CEE region.
Platform work in East-Central Europe: reporting and organizing in an emerging field
In the CEE peripheries of the EU, casualisation of work and degradation of employment relations within the overall context of recession and crisis has been common well before platform companies, such as Uber, emerged. The Covid-19 pandemic deepened an already pervasive economic crisis, as both unemployment and social inequalities increased and it suddenly highlighted the significance of the mostly invisible platform-based gig work for the economy and society alike.
More and more worker vulnerabilities are unveiled, as platform work, both in the form of on-location platform companies such those in charge of food delivery, but also online platform companies, such as Upwork is becoming more visible to the broader public. These bring to public attention the negative effects of platform work on the labour law infrastructures and social welfare of workers, as well as on the overall social cohesion of CEE societies where the social fabric has already been torn apart by rampant privatisation, induced unemployment and mass outmigration.
Against this background, the starting point of the roundtable is to bring to the forefront main features of platform-based gig work as carried out within the specific industrial relations, as well as institutional and social context in Europe’s post-socialist periphery. Invited researchers, journalists, activists and artists engaged with this topic will participate in a conversation that will map out key questions and methods of dealing with the platform-based gig work in the CEE region. They will share their methodologies of research, art and militancy that might help to explain the discrepancy between the platform companies’ promises and the realities of the employment they provide, the technology that enables it, and, often makes it socially acceptable or regulated (“the new normal”).
Talking about their engagement and spelling out new challenges and opportunities for research, media work, and politics that platform-based gig work creates, we hope to be able to get a structured discussion, sharing experiences, best practices and shared concerns for labour conditions and labour organising.
The discussion is a closing-event to the “Gig work in CEE’s platform economy” article series that ELMO member platforms have carried out and published in English on LeftEast in May in honour of the international labour day, May 1st and May as a month dedicated to workers’ struggles. All English language articles, with special focus on Croatian and Hungarian delivery workers, as well as Serbian platform work are available on LeftEast here. To access the texts in local languages, open each article for further links.
More details about the invited speakers
Tibor T. Meszmann is a researcher at the Central European Labor Studies Institute, and member of Public Sociology Working Group “Helyzet”, Budapest. He specialized in trade union politics, and follows especially the world of labor in the metal industry, and more recently, platform work.
Jurgis Valiukevičius is a chairperson of Lithuania based May 1st labor union (G1PS). He is part of the organization team of “Couriers’ association” that has been established in 2020 as a branch of the union for food delivery couriers. Couriers’ association is the first union of platform workers in Lithuania. It was established in 2020 October after the workers’ strike of “Bolt food” workers.
Branka Anđelković is a Co-founder and Programme Director of the Public Policy Research Center, Belgrade based think tank. Her current research interests are focused on labour markets and non-standard forms of employment in the context of knowledge-based economy and digital transformation. Branka is the lead author and editor of several pioneering studies about the platform economy and digital work in Serbia. Together with Tanja Jakobi she created the GigmetarTM, the first instrument for assessing the socio-economic status of digital workers (men and women) from Serbia.
As a consultant, Branka has been advising international organizations and national governments for more than 15 years on the social protection and active labour market polices, and participation of civil society policy in policy-making in Serbia, Turkey and eastern European countries. She holds MAs in public administration from the Harvard University (United States), and in the international relations from the Central European University (Hungary). Her BA is in the comparative literature and theory of literature from the University of Belgrade (Serbia).
David Schwartz is a theatre director by training, a cultural worker involved in numerous politically-engaged performing arts projects. He’s earned his PhD at the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj in 2016, with a thesis on socially-engaged theatre. He directed and co-wrote over 20 theatre performances, a short animation film and a documentary film (together with Andra Tarara). He is the founder of the Political Theatre Platform developed in Bucharest since 2013 and the co-initiator of 4TH Age Community Arts project developed together with the seniors of Moses Rosen retirement home of the Jewish Community in Bucharest, since 2009.
Marko Miletić is a co-editor of Mašina, member of Kontekst Collective and Political Platform Solidarity. Apart from organizational and curatorial work in the fields of culture and media, he is active in political organizing and in struggles for labor rights and trade union organizing, which are also the topics he frequently writes about.
Mariya Ivancheva is a sociologist and anthropologist, who works on social/ist movements and the role of university workers and students in processes of social change. She is a member of the collectives LeftEast and the Bulgarian Left-feminist group LevFem, and is active with the E.A.S.T. and ELMO networks. You can follow her at @mivanche.