“The strategies of industrial relations actors towards platformisation and working conditions. The case of Amazon Poland”

23 February 2024 By

On 22 February 2024, the INCA team from the University of Wroclaw presented a paper based on INCA project findings at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Future of Work Conference in Brussels. Entitled “The strategies of industrial relations actors towards platformisation and working conditions: The case of Amazon Poland”, the presentation by Szymon Pilch, Adam Mrozowicki, and Olga Gitkiewicz attracted considerable attention, sparking questions and remarks among attendees.

The paper concluded that the path-dependency hypothesis provides a precise explanation for approaches to platformisation: the strategies of industrial relations (IR) actors towards platformisation are mediated by existing IR institutions and systems, so as Amazon’s operations in Poland. The weakness of the IR system in Poland and the reliance of IR actors on EU and Polish level regulations were identified.

Platformisation seems to deteriorate working conditions in the platform economy and in Amazon Poland. Workers responded with various forms of protest, collaboration with civil society, and appeals to regulation. There was a growing call for more collective agreements with big tech companies and more collective bargaining, with workers using their individual resources to address workplace challenges.

The emergence of radical unions and grassroots workers’ movements was seen as a response to platformisation, while simultaneously reinforcing big tech’s infrastructural power through tactics such as lobbying and exploiting regulatory gaps. It was noted that Amazon is involved with several employment organizations in Poland.

The role of state institutions was described as ambivalent, on the one hand, it favours big tech through various incentives, thus further platformisation, on the other, the state limits its support for the interests of national IR actors.