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In the rapidly evolving landscape of platform work, the dynamics between technology, labour and regulation have become increasingly complex. Aapti Institute works at the intersection of technology and society, and has been actively engaged in exploring these complexities through its work on digitally-mediated labour. It's research on governance in platform work and its work in establishing governance mechanisms alongside platforms examines the injustices of the platform economy, while exploring the spaces for engagement between labour and capital.

Lately, India has seen a surge in advocacy efforts and legislative actions aimed at safeguarding the rights of platform gig workers through the widening of social security cover. This has sparked renewed debates on the role of the state, platform obligations and worker welfare. In the UK, where Aapti Institute has launched a new office, alongside legal battles led by organisations like Worker Info Exchange (WIE), recent reforms in employment law have sought to address the challenges faced by gig workers, signalling a shift towards recognising their rights and protections.

Despite these advancements, challenges persist in both contexts. This panel discussion seeks to unpack the similarities and divergences and what mutual lessons might be; it also aims to identify actionable pathways for advancing workers' welfare and rights, and empowering them with work opportunities.

About the speakers

James Farrar is the Founder & Director of Worker Info Exchange. After leaving a career in tech, James became in activist for worker rights in the gig economy. He is the lead claimant in the landmark worker rights case against Uber recently decided in favour of workers by the UK Supreme Court. James founded Worker Info Exchange having realized that surveillance and hidden unfair algorithmic management would be the next stage in the battle for worker rights in the gig economy.

Sarayu Natrajan has a background in management consulting (McKinsey and Company), venture investing (Elevar Equity), program development and management (Gray Matters Capital), and academic research. She has a PhD in Political Science from King's College London, a Master's in Public Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University, and a arts and law degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU).

Allesio Bertolini is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Fairwork. Before joining the Fairwork project, Alessio was part of the ‘Work on Demand: Contracting for Work in a Changing Economy’ project at the University of Glasgow. Within this broader project, Alessio had been investigating ideas and strategies used by different stakeholders and policy actors in the regulation of the platform economy in a comparative perspective. Alessio completed his PhD in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh on the topic of comparative labour market regulations for non-standard workers in Italy and the UK. With a background in economics and policy studies, his area of expertise involves employment and welfare rights for non-standard workers from a comparative European perspective. Both before and during his PhD, he was involved in several national and international research projects on the topic of labour market and welfare policies. Alessio has recently published a book titled ‘Temporary Agency Workers in Italy and the UK: The Comparative Experience of Labour Market Disadvantage. For the Fairwork project, Alessio coordinates research in a number of countries in Europe and Latin America and is involved in a number of activities with a focus on the Global South.

Alessandra Mezzadri is Reader in Global Development and Political Economy at SOAS, London. She is a feminist and development political economist of labour and social reproduction. She is the author of The Sweatshop Regime (CUP, 2017.2021), editor of Marx in the Field (Anthem, 2021, 2023), co-editor of a new Handbook of Research on the Global Political Economy of Work (EE, 2023), and lead-author of the ILO report The Social Life of Industrial Disputes: Exploring workers-centred industrial relations in India’s garment labour regime (ILO, 2023).

Event details

BH SE 2.09
Bush House South East Wing
Strand, London WC2R 1AE