On April 26, 2022, the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro held a conference: “Trade union platform for platform workers and work from home.” The participants of the conference – representatives of trade unions functioning within the UFTUM, had the opportunity to get acquainted with European and regional trends related to increasingly dominant forms of work such as platform work and telework. Andrej Zorko – Executive Secretary of the Federation of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia and Nikola Countouris – Director of the Research Department at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) shared with participants their knowledge and experience on this topic.
The UFTUM used the opportunity to present to participants and panelists the results of a qualitative study on the position of freelancers and platform workers in Montenegro, which was conducted in March for the UFTUM by the DeFacto Consultancy Agency. It was concluded at the conference that, due to demographic trends and digitalization, far-reaching changes in the labor market are taking place, leading to new forms of employment that differ significantly from traditional labor relations, especially in terms of predictability, (in)security in providing and protecting labor and social rights. Such global trends do not skip Montenegro either, and in the last few years there has been more talk about freelancers and platform workers, while the institute of work from home has gained its full momentum with the pandemic outbreak caused by the spread of coronavirus. Due to these insufficiently researched phenomena even at the level of the European Union, it was concluded that trade unions were facing huge challenges to monitor these processes, should observe the causes and consequences of this type of work engagement, and timely point out problems in order to improve social and tax legislation. Special emphasis was placed on the need for the trade union struggle to recognize “gig workers” as employed persons, and platforms that “mediate” in jobs finding work as employers. On the other hand, it is important to further improve the legislative framework in order to protect both labor and social rights of freelancers who earn income from self-employment, or to recognise them through other legal solutions, not only through the Law on Incentives for Research and Innovation.
Finally, it was concluded that the institute of work from home required further improvement, and that it was necessary to continue to insist on the voluntary acceptance of this form of work. The conference was organised as one of the activities of the project “Trade Unions for a Fair Recovery” which the UFTUM has been implementing since February 2022, and which is supported by the European Trade Union Confederation.
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