Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • 10 December 2022 - 10 December 2022
  • online
  • Registration
  • Conference
  • Class Struggle in the Platform Economy: Lessons from China and Germany

  • This conference, organised by Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation and Critical China Forum, aims to bring together food delivery workers from Germany and China (both mainland and Hong Kong) for an exchange on working conditions and labour disputes in their countries.

    The use of online food delivery services has surged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of months-long lockdowns in most countries around the globe. This surge is part of the broader process of digitalisation, which affects more and more spheres of everyday life, the economy, and the workplace, and has generated its own economic sector in the form of the so-called “platform economy”.

    Platform-mediated work is generally characterised by poor wages, the absence of social security and occupational health protections, and reprisals against union organising. In the food delivery market, circumventing labour protections is also part of the business model.

    This conference aims to bring together food delivery workers from Germany and China (both mainland and Hong Kong) for an exchange on working conditions and labour disputes in their countries. Taking into account that delivery is performed in different ways — on foot, by bicycle, e-bike, moped, motorbike, or even car — the exchange will highlight the differences and similarities and reflect on the way workers in this sector organize themselves and how they collaborate internationally. As part of the working class, the question of how they organise themselves is also key: whether in the form of traditional or anarcho-syndicalist trade unions, or in collectives beyond trade unions.

    Questions:

    • How has the food delivery industry developed in China and Germany in recent years?
    • What are the working conditions of food delivery workers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Germany?
    • How have couriers waged labour disputes and developed organising strategies?
    • What are their similarities and differences between the two countries?

    Organised by:

    • Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation
    • Critical China Forum

    Registration: Please send a written and binding registration to thomas.sablowski[at]rosalux.org, stating your name, address, organisational affiliation, and e-mail by Thursday, 8 December 2022.

    Participation will be confirmed by e-mail and an access code will be sent shortly before the conference.

    Interpretation: English and Chinese with simultaneous translation

    More information on the event can be found here.


Programme

Saturday, 10 December

09:00 (CET): Welcome by the convenors - Overview of the delivery industry and the platform economy worldwide

Speaker:

  • Simon Schaupp, University of Basel

09:20 (CET): Overview of China: food delivery platforms and workers in a strong state

Speaker:

  • Lee Yu, Researcher of platform labour in China, Hong Kong

09:35 (CET): Overview on the situation in Hong Kong

Speaker:

  • Au Gaawing, Riders’ Rights Concern Group, Hong Kong

09:50 (CET): Overview of the situation in Germany

Speaker:

  • Simon Schaupp, University of Basel

Followed by questions and comments from participants

10:30 (CET): Break

11:00 (CET): Activist reports on working conditions and labour disputes

Speaker:

  • A delivery worker from mainland China

Followed by questions and comments from participants

11:30 (CET): Siutong reports on Foodpanda delivery workers’ struggle in Hong Kong

Followed by questions and comments from participants

12:00 (CET): Short break

12:15 (CET): Activist reports on working conditions and labour disputes

Speakers:

  • Elmar Wiegand, Flink, Action against Labour Injustice, Cologne
  • A delivery worker from Gorillas, Berlin

Followed by questions and comments from participants

12:45 (CET): Final discussion and closing remarks

13:30 (CET): End of the conference


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