Struggle for recognition, a lever to establish Industrial Relations from below. Reinterpreting couriers' mobilisations in food delivery sector in Italy


In this contribution we offer a conceptualisation of the cycle of struggles recently happening in the food delivery sector in Italy. As a part of an in-depth co-research conducted among Riders Union Bologna (RUB), we investigate this case by adopting the lens of recognition. Despite its long-standing roots, recognition is a category that has largely been neglected by Industrial Relations (IR) debate. The article will present its potential in understanding some precarious workers' struggles, focusing their successful path in establishing IR in an anti-union environment, such as that of food delivery platforms. Three dimensions of recognition will then be explored: the internal recognition that is fundamental in forming workers' collective identity; the institutional recognition leading to the development of new regulations in the sector; the recognition by employers that makes collective bargaining possible. In conclusion, after highlighting the main evidences of the research, reflections will be conducted on the potential of the category of recognition in renewing IR theories, including struggles that often escape traditional approaches.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v16i2p252

Keywords: couriers; food delivery; gig economy; Industrial Relations; Platform Capitalism; Recognition theory


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