Stage T
12:30 - 13:30
We Can Work It Out
The Fairwork Foundation: strategies for online platform work

Short thesis

An estimated 70 million people are now finding work through apps, platforms, and websites. There are emerging concerns about the quality of this work, which is often obscured behind technology. We introduce the Fairwork Foundation, a project that addresses the issue of fair work on online platforms. This involves criteria for fair digital work, along with a certification process for platforms. The workshop provides a forum with six thought leaders discussing the future of work.


As ever more people from low-income countries connect to the Internet, these workers are placed into fierce competition with one another. Lacking the ability to collectively bargain, these workers have little ability to negotiate wages or working conditions with their employers who are often on the other side of the world. Many workers have jobs characterized by long and irregular hours, low income, and high stress. The international nature of digital work means that it tends largely to be done outside of the purview of national governments, with very few employers paying attention to relevant existing regulation in either their home countries or the worker’s home country. International digital labour platforms threaten to undermine workers’ ability to defend existing jobs, liveable wages, and dignified working conditions, in both low- and high-income countries. In almost all types of platform-mediated work, workers themselves have found it extremely challenging to exert any sort of power to bargain with the platform.

This workshop will present the Fairwork Foundation as a strategy to address the issue of fair work on online platforms. Taking inspiration from the Fairtrade movement, this approach involves a programme of innovative data collection alongside a certification of the quality of work on these platforms. 

The German Ministry for Cooperation and Development supports the work of the Fairwork Foundation.