Digital trade rules and public sector workers’ rights: a webinar series – Unions For Trade Justice

Digital trade rules and public sector workers’ rights: a webinar series

In September and October 2020, Public Services International, in collaboration with Focus on the Global South, IT for Change and Third World Network organised a series of three webinars on digitalisation, public services and digital trade rules with the intention to provide evidence and analysis for Indian trade unions to building their understanding.


As digitisation advances in various sectors, the employer-employee relationship is increasingly mediated through data. The most advanced experience of this phenomenon is in the platform economy, where Big Tech is also cutting its teeth in experimenting with using this tool to increase its power over workers, including with an aim to subvert existing labour laws and its implementation mechanisms.

This webinar will delve into the implication of digitisation for India’s industrial relations system, identify legal gaps, and the implications of digital trade rules for plugging the existing gaps.

Sangam Tripathi, International Transport Workers’ Federation
How tech companies are using data to their advantage in industrial relations
Ramapriya Gopalakrishnan, Senior Advocate
Gaps in existing labour laws in the view of the advance of digitisation
Shyam Sundar, Xavier School of Management – Jamshedpur
Implications of digital trade rules for India’s industrial relations system
Moderator: Susana Barria, Public Services International

Watch WEBINAR 1 online


Digitalisation is fast re-shaping a range of economic activities, primarily driven by ‘big tech’ corporations. These corporations are also privatising and profiteering from data in sectors, such as health, transport and other social services, considered as public services. Often this means that in digitised public services, government departments have de-facto handed over control to private corporations. The role of these large firms in digital applications being used in public services is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years. What does this mean for workers and public interest regulation?

This session will explore the implications of the process of digitisation in the privatisation of key public services, address the limitations of current policy and regulations and threats from proposed digital trade rules under the current global trade architecture.

Jammu Anand, Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees Union
How digitisation is advancing privatisation through ‘Smart Cities’
Deepika Joshi, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan
The implications of the National Digital Health Mission for the Indian health system
Ranja Sengupta, Third World Network
Digital Trade Rules and expansion of the private sector
Moderator: Benny Kuruvilla, Focus on the Global South

Watch WEBINAR 2 online.


Digitalisation of public services has led to a capture of valuable data resources from the public by Big Tech companies. The public interest content of data governance, however, depend on national and global policy frameworks that must be articulated from the standpoint of data as a public good. The global trade regime may threaten worker- and people-centred data governance policies, giving transnational digital corporations a free rein in their extractive and exploitative practices. Data rights are becoming central to the labour rights movement and its vision for a socially just and egalitarian world.

The proposed webinar will explore why data governance matters for workers’ rights, and discuss the importance of public data infrastructure, workers’ data rights and how digital trade agreements impact policy space for public interest-oriented data governance.

V Narasimhan, All India National Life Insurance Employees Federation
Public data infrastructure development and workers’ rights: The LIC experience
Nandini Chami, IT for Change
How can we conceptualise data governance for workers’ data rights? : Some reflections for the Indian context
Jai Vipra, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy
Digital trade agreements and the policy space for data governance
Moderator: Susana Barria, Public Services International

Watch WEBINAR 3 online.

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