10 December 2022 Convention/Conference Class Struggle in the Platform Economy: Lessons from China and Germany

Online conference on Saturday, 10 December 2022, 09:00 to 13:30 (CET)


Event location



10.12.2022, 09:00 - 13:30 Hr


Globalization, Labour / Unions, Digital Transformation, China


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Class Struggle in the Platform Economy: Lessons from China and Germany
IMAGO/Zuma Wire

The use of online food delivery services has surged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of months-long lockdowns in most countries around the globe. This surge is part of the broader process of digitalization, which affects more and more spheres of everyday life, the economy, and the workplace, and has generated its own economic sector in the form of the so-called “platform economy”.

Platform-mediated work is generally characterized by poor wages, the absence of social security and occupational health protections, and reprisals against union organizing. In the food delivery market, circumventing labour protections is also part of the business model.

This conference aims to bring together food delivery workers from Germany and China (both mainland and Hong Kong) for an exchange on working conditions and labour disputes in their countries. Taking into account that delivery is performed in different ways — on foot, by bicycle, e-bike, moped, motorbike, or even car — the exchange will highlight the differences and similarities and reflect on the way workers in this sector organize themselves and how they collaborate internationally. As part of the working class, the question of how they organize themselves is also key: whether in the form of traditional or anarcho-syndicalist trade unions, or in collectives beyond trade unions.


  • How has the food delivery industry developed in China and Germany in recent years?
  • What are the working conditions of food delivery workers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Germany?
  • How have couriers waged labour disputes and developed organizing strategies?
  • What are their similarities and differences between the two countries?


Saturday, 10 December, 09:00 – 13:30 (CET), 16:00 – 20:30 hrs (CST)
Conference languages are English and Chinese with simultaneous translation.

Welcome by the convenors

Overview of the delivery industry and the platform economy worldwide
by Simon Schaupp, University of Basel

Overview of China: food delivery platforms and workers in a strong state
by Lee Yu, Researcher of platform labour in China, Hong Kong

Overview on the situation in Hong Kong
by Au Gaawing, Riders’ Rights Concern Group, Hong Kong,

Overview of the situation in Germany
by Simon Schaupp, University of Basel
Followed by questions and comments from participants


Activist reports on working conditions and labour disputes:
A delivery worker from mainland China,
Followed by questions and comments from participants

Siutong reports on Foodpanda delivery workers’ struggle in Hong Kong
Followed by questions and comments from participants

Short break

Elmar Wiegand (Flink, Action against Labour Injustice), Cologne
A delivery worker from Gorillas, Berlin
Followed by questions and comments from participants

Final discussion and closing remarks

End of the conference



Please send a written and binding registration by e-mail for participation in the online conference, stating your name, address, organizational affiliation, and e-mail by Thursday, 8 December 2022.

Participation will be confirmed by e-mail and an access code will be sent shortly before the conference.

About the Critical China Forum

In the polarized debate on developments in China and its role in the shifts and upheavals in the capitalist world order, differentiated analyses are often hard to find. We want to bring emancipatory, internationalist positions into the political discussion and point out possibilities for action in solidarity. The Critical China Forum is about addressing the prejudices against China in the “West” as well as the relations of domination, capitalist exploitation, and the destruction of nature in China. We oppose racism, chauvinism, simple black-and-white thinking, and military escalation, which continue to rise in the course of growing world market competition and geopolitical power confrontations and are currently shaping state action.

We offer an information platform and organize public discussion events on China. Our topics include labour relations, social movements, gender relations, environmental policy, and international relations. So far, staff from the universities of Erfurt, Kassel, Cologne, Leipzig, Passau, the Humboldt University, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, PowerShift, as well as members of gongchao.org, the Forum Arbeitswelten, IG Metall, IG BCE and GEW have taken part in our events.


Dr. Thomas Sablowski

Senior Fellow for the Political Economy of Globalization, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

Phone: +49 30 44310129