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The International Symposium on "Challenges and Countermeasure of New Technology to Social Law" was Successfully Held in the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Law School

On April 1, 2019, the International Symposium on "Challenges and Countermeasure of New Technology to Social Law" was successfully held in the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Law School. The seminar was co-sponsored by SUFE Law School and the Labor Law Research Association of the Shanghai Law Society, and undertaken by SUFE Big Data and AI Rule of Law Research Center, and SUFE Research Center for Economic Law and Social Law. Nearly 60 people attended the seminar, including foreign scholars and practitioners from Law Department and Human Resources Department of Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), the German Labor School, the German Federal Press and other foreign scholars and practitioners, and scholars from Tsinghua University Law School, Zhengfa University of China, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Law Institute, Jilin University Law School, Nanjing University Law School, Central University of Finance and Economics Law School, East China University of Political Science and Law School of Economic Law, East China Normal University Law School, Shanghai Maritime University Law School, Shanghai Normal University Law School and SUFE Law School and other scholars from many colleges, as well as experts from substantive departments like Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions, Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security Employment Promotion Center, Shanghai Labor and Personnel Dispute Arbitration Court, Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, Putuo District People's Court, River Delta Law Firm, Shanghai LANBAI Law Firm and so on.

Wang Quanxing, Professor of Law School of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and Vice President of China Social Law Research Association, presided over the opening ceremony of the conference. Prof. Wang expressed warm welcome and sincere thanks to the domestic and foreign experts and scholars attending this seminar. He pointed out that with the development of market economy, changes in the employment structure in an age of digitallization and new technology impacted laws and social ethics, and challenged the balance between industrial development and labor rights. As an important part of the socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, social law inevitably responds to new challenges in the changing time. This conference not only brings together experts from domestic academic and practical circles of social law, but also has the honor to invite many foreign guests. Such a collision of minds will surely spark a wave of wisdom.

Mr.VorbauReinhard,Chief Executive Officer of the Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) expressed his gratitude for being invited to the conference and introduced the core task and objective of DGB legal protection.

Frank Balmes,Professor of the German Labor School, thanked for being invited to Shanghai and introduced the development of the German Labor School to the guests. He expressed his wishes to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with Chinese colleges.

Mr. Rainer Jöde, General Manager of the German Federal Press, introduced the history of the German Federal Press and its relationship with Chinese Press. He hoped that more works on labor law exchanges between China and Germany could be published in the future.

Cao Yanchun,Professor of Shanghai Maritime University, Chairman of the Labor Law Research Association of the Shanghai Law Society, pointed out in her speech that this international seminar on social law could not only trigger reflections on the application of labor law in the age of new technology, but also converge suggestions from German experts which might provide valuable lessons for solving specific problems.

Profess Song Xiaoyan, Dean of the Law School of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, first extended a warm welcome to the guests and then expressed sincere appreciation for the support of Chinese and German labor law experts and colleagues in the practice circles. In her speech, she stated that against the background of the vigorous development of digitization and new technology, there has been a great demand for examining legal issues in the field of social law. This conference would be a good exemplar of good combination of theory and practice, and a cultural feast for the collision of wisdom in the field of social law between China and Germany. Thank you again for your strong support and wish the conference a complete success.

The conference was divided into three units, and the topic of each unit includes: Industry 4.0 and new forms of employment, laborer orientation under digitization and new technology, and legal adjustment and management practices under digitization and new technology.

The first unit was chaired by Professor Zheng Shangyuan, from Tsinghua University Law School. The reporters were Mr. Vorbau Reinhard,CEO of DGB Law Department, and Professor Tian Sizu, from School of Economic Law, East China University of Political Science and Law.

Mr. Vorbau Reinhard introduced the evolution process from Industrial Revolution 1.0 to Industry 4.0. He pointed out that Industry 1.0 was born in the United Kingdom, and Germany only began to enter the era of Industrial Revolution 1.0 in 1830. In the era of Industrial Revolution 2.0, the invention of the conveyor belt made large scale production possible. In the era of Industrial Revolution 3.0, Germany hoped to improve people’s well-being through institutional changes. The concept of the welfare state originated in the United Kingdom but emerged in Germany. Industrial Revolution 4.0 started with the invention of computers. Mr. Vorbau Reinhard said that with the rapid development of the Internet, Big Data, biotechnology and other neighborhoods, the development of China's Industry 4.0 in particular was worth learning for Germany.

The subject of Mr. Vorbau Reinhard's report was "New Employment Forms and Labor Laws in Germany". In the presentation, he firstly mentioned that the digital age has made a difference to global working methods. It was an abstract concept that deserved our deep consideration. Secondly, in this report, Mr. Vorbau Reinhard used vivid pictures to show the social life under digitallization. In the end, Mr. Vorbau Reinhard introduced new employment model in Germany, including shared employees, work sharing, temporary management, temporary employment, crowdsourcing, cooperative work, and delivery services.

The topic of Professor Tian Silu's report was "Subordinate Labor Theory in the Age of Industry 4.0". Prof. Tian firstly analyzed the concept of Industry 4.0 and proposed the main problems faced by labor law in the era of Industry 4.0, including: whether the subordination characteristics of subordinate labor relations are gradually declining, whether the multiple symbiosis of flexible employment forms will be the mainstream of future development, whether the status and role of labor law decline accordingly? Secondly, Prof. Tian responded to the above questions one by one in terms of the significance, classification, judgment criteria, and innovative identification of subordination. Finally, Prof. Tian pointed out that in the process of diversification of labor forms and mutual transformation of labor supply forms, if there were a broad and deep understanding that the need for legal protection for service provision which was beneficial to society, the labor law may break the original fixed and rigid scope of application, and modify the established subordinate labor theory. In the era of Industry 4.0, autonomous, independent, individualized and creative labor would develop rapidly, and subordinate labor would gradually fail. Human being would be liberated from traditional subordinate labor and engage more in valuable and meaningful work independently. This is a brand-new sign of the progress of human civilization.

After the two wonderful speeches, Qiu Baohua, Dean of Shanghai Labor and Personnel Dispute Arbitration Institute, Zhao Hongmei, professor of Civil and Economic Law College of Zhengfa University of China, and Liu Cheng, professor of the College of Law and Politics of Shanghai Normal University, respectively made comments.

Dean Qiu Baohua agreed with Prof. Tian’s view on subordination classification. She proposed that the development of Industry 4.0 has gradually changed the way of working. Machines have liberated people from heavy and dangerous work, but this also have gradually demonstrated machines’ substitution for people. It was necessary to analyze the identification of labor relations triggered by new technology from the perspectives of what should be and what is. In the era of Industry 4.0, we should pay more attention to the super competitive advantages of large enterprises over small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and deal with them legally.

Professor Zhao Hongmei believed that the judgment of subordination has surpassed the boundary of equality in the contract era, and the challenges of German Internet employment were different from those of our country. The reason was that Germany is a representative of the welfare state with the development of the industrial revolution; but in the status quo of China's social security system with many shortcomings has appeared many new problems in the wave of Industry 4.0. Prof. Zhao thought if workers were replaced, the social attributes as people would also decline.

Professor Liu Cheng held that the speeches of the two professors have brought us a review of the labor law. He believed that the labor law should not be deregulated. The artificial intelligence era will not reduce the employer's control over employees due to technological reasons. Prof. Liu pointed out that we had been overly pursuing economic development nowadays, but we must also stress people’s emotional appeals which could not be replaced by machines. Do not use artificial intelligence as a bubble, and do not put too much pressure on labor law.

After the review session, it was time for free discussion session of this unit. In this part, the experts and scholars present not only launched a fierce discussion on the content of the reporters and the reviewers, but also discovered new issues worthy of studying.

The second unit of the conference was presided over by Lawyer Lu Jingbo, Director of River Delta Law Firm. The speakers were Wang Tianyu, Associate Researcher of the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Wang Fei, Vice President of Shanghai Putuo District People's Court, and Mr. Bertold Brücher, Director of DGB Human Resources Department and Mr. Werner Bünnagel from DGB  Legal Protection Department.

Associate researcher Wang Tianyu delivered a talk addressing "What is platform employment? What are the challenges?". He started with the following five sections: the overview of China's sharing economy development, the platform economy development model, the controversy in the identification of platform labor relations, the academic discussion of subordination, and the challenges faced. He mentioned the rapid development of China's sharing economy. And the most problematic among different forms of organizational platforms is Platform C, a platform achieving the services of labor provision and labor demand through registration. Subsequently, he started with different types of judgments of Chinese courts from 2014 to 2018, and analyzed the relation identification between labor providers and platforms. Then, Associate Researcher Wang Tianyu deconstructed the identification differences of subordination theory and trial practice among Germany, Japan, and Taiwan. Finally, he pointed out that the essence of online platform labor was the socialization of contracting, and it was also the result of the socialization of platform employment. The developmental trend of the individual employment’s gradual evolution into industrialization was indeed the process of socialization. We should draw upon labor law as an approach to build a multi-level labor protection system.

Deputy President Wang Fei gave a report on "The Veil of "Internet +" Business——Starting from the Identification of Labor Relations". Wang Fei noted that "Internet +" has brought about great changes like convenience of lifestyle, remoteness and diversification of trading patterns, and blurred labor relations. Secondly, by introducing cases, he explained the issue of identification of labor relations for platform employment in judicial practice. Next, he took the defendant's defense in the concrete case as a lens to reveal the veil of the business model. Finally, he discussed that labor relations are not scourges. It was both necessary for us to adjust traditional labor relations through labor law, and admit non-standard labor relations, and recognize and strengthen the protection of this type of "flexible employment".

Mr. Bertold Brücher gave a report concerning "The Definition of Worker from the Perspective of German Law and digitization and New Technology". Firstly, he analyzed the term "worker" according to the definition in German law and the perspective of new digital technology respectively. He pointed out that in the setting of digitization and new technology, labor relations in the workplace have become loose. Digitization has promoted changes in labor relations. Outsourcing has become the "darling" of German companies, which triggered major changes in the fields of wages and social security. DGB hoped to define the relationship between workers and employers through policy formulation and incorporate the social security and medical issues of self-employed workers into the focus of new policy.

Mr. Werner Bünnagel gave a report on "DGB’s Legal Protection for Modern Knowledge Economy: The Tension between Digitization and Interpersonal Network". He mentioned in the report that the digital revolution has brought opportunities and challenges, especially when these changes impacted the familiar work with such an incredible and unknown momentum. Mr. Werner Bünnagel pointed out that knowledge management was a key function that affected enterprise development and strategic planning. In particular, with the degree of automation in industrial production improved, the service processes related to human knowledge has been increasingly important. At present, digitization and human knowledge seemed to be in a tense situation. Mr. Werner Bünnagel believed that resolving such tension would be beneficial in achieving a win-win situation between digital development and the protection of fundamental rights.

After the wonderful speeches of the above four speakers, Zhou Guoliang, director of Employment Promotion Center of Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security, Feng Yanjun, Professor of Law School of Jilin University, and Huang Qi, Investigator of Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions, respectively made comments.

Director Zhou Guoliang thought, to solve the risks brought by the platform economy, we could in-depth study the interaction between practice and law, strengthen multi-level labor protection, and alleviate social risks through social security. China should strengthen the protection for flexible employment and adhere to an inclusive and prudent supervision attitude, and last promote the development of platform economy.

Professor Feng pointed out that the identification of labor relations was a diversified system. The digital age has complicated the identification of labor relations, which forced us to reflect on whether the subordination theory need to be supplemented. In this process, when traditional theories met explanation function insufficiency, should the traditional theories be flexible or make exceptions? The labor law should be responsible.

Investigator Huang Qi evaluated Associate Researcher Wang Tianyu's report as “remembering the original, absorbing the foreign, and facing the future”. She thought  the report of Vice Dean Wang Fei was very sentimental. The report not only led everyone to experience what Internet employment is, but also triggered our reflections. Finally, Huang Qi agreed with the definition of decent work mentioned by the German experts. She believed, in the context of the Internet, digitization, and platform economy, the lack of protection for decent work would be detrimental to the development of the market economy.

Next, let’s move on to the free discussion of this unit. The atmosphere was warm. The guests raised their doubts and opinions on the report, in turn, the speakers answered in detail.

The third unit was presided over by Cen E, Vice Dean of the School of Law of East China Normal University. The reporters were Professor Shen Jianfeng from the School of Law of Central University of Finance and Economics, Professor Mr. Tino Junghans from German Labor School, Associate Professor Zhou Changzheng from the School of Law of Nanjing University, and Associate Professor Hu Ling, Associate Dean from SUFE Law School and Lawyer Lu Yin, Director of Shanghai LANBAI Law Firm. 

Professor Shen Jianfeng gave a report on the topic of "Industrial Upgrading and Legal Adjustment of Employment Relations". Prof. Shen’s presentation was structured by the following six facets: (1) the industrial age towards the information age (2) the change in the concept of legal adjustment of labor relations (3) the change in the technology of legal adjustment of labor relations (4) problems caused by technology can be solved by technical means (5) re-balance of flexibility and safe. Prof. Shen pointed out that the law of labor relations was private autonomy, and such excessive autonomy or freedom will lead to the failure of social protection. From the perspective of the macro-framework of labor market rationing, labor relations should be understood in a more macroscopic perspective to achieve hierarchical governance of labor relations. Prof. Shen emphasized that the legal mechanism of labor relations should be coordinated in the reform of legal adjustment technology of labor relations. The problems caused by technology could be solved through technical means. Finally, Prof. Shen stated that the goal and original intention of labor relations and labor relations coordination was to seek a balance, including balancing the interests of workers and employers and balancing coordination mechanisms of different labor relations. The reform of legal adjustment of employment relations in the information age should not detract from the protection of workers; instead, the legal adjustment mechanism of employment methods under the background of "Internet +" should be applied.

Professor Tino Junghans reported on "Worker Participation in Germany and Its Impact in the Age of digitization and New Technology". Firstly, Prof. Tino Junghans explained the joint decision of the works council and analyzed the right of joint decision. In matters that having real joint decision-making power, employers could not take any measures without the consent of Works Bureau, but must first apply to the works council and try to obtain their consent to the measures to be taken. Secondly, Prof. Tino Junghans introduced the factors influencing the choices made by the works council, the fundamental changes in work organization, and the new challenges faced by the works council. Finally, Prof. Tino Junghans pointed out that the decision to introduce new technology was only made by the employer, and the work council could only participate within the framework of its statutory joint decision-making power. The work council must safeguard the interests of employees and fully protect their rights.

Associate Professor Zhou Changzheng gave a report on "Analysis of Occupational Injury Insurance Model for Flexible Employment under the Background of Platform Economy". The report was carried out in four aspects: (1) the occupational injury problem of flexible employees brought from platform economy, (2) the domestic experience of exploring flexible employees’ industrial injury insurance models, (3)the international comparison of flexible employees’ industrial injury insurance models, and (4) the system construction of flexible employees’ occupational injury insurance models in the context of platform economy. Assoc. Prof. Zhou Changzheng pointed out that in order to reduce the risk of occupational injury of flexible employees and ensure the healthy development of platform economy, China should establish an occupational injury insurance system as soon as possible in the future. With the emergence of new economy and new business forms, especially the rapid development of platform economy, industrial injury insurance law would gradually develop to occupational injury insurance in the future and occupational injury insurance would surely become a major institutional innovation in China's industrial injury insurance system.

Associate Professor Hu Ling reported on "The Control of Internet Platforms on Internet Workers". Based on the Internet platform as an economic production process, the production process and measures of the platform, the varying degree of control of the platform over Internet workers, and other possible standards for identifying labor relations, Assoc. Prof. Hu Ling raised his research question in the first part. The second part was about sharing economy, also called platform economy; in this part, he analyzed the platform economy from how to imagine the relationship between us and the platform, whether the platform is a company or a market, and how the platform leads the production process. The third part specifically addressed different extents of control of platforms over Internet workers, including formulating conduct and transaction norms on the platform, strengthening management and monitoring of platform workers and transaction participants and strengthening personality subordination. Finally, Assoc. Prof. Hu Ling discussed the judicial response, labor expectation standards and multiple alternative distribution mechanisms in order.

Lawyer Lu Yin gave a report on the topic of "GDPR Challenges to Employee Information Management". He firstly introduced the evolution of the formulation of GDPR and explained the scope of application of GDPR, especially the judgement applying GDPR on China's European-related enterprises. Then, Lu Yin talked about at what level should companies pay attention to the impact of GDPR, including the expansion of application scope, fines, data protection officer requesting independence, privacy design, and the right to be forgotten. Finally, Lu Yin analyzed the legal obstacles in the exercise of the right to be forgotten through specific cases, and put forward suggestions on the localization of the right to be forgotten.

After the above brilliant reports, Professor Liu Jinxiang from the School of Law of East China University of Science and Technology and Judge Guo Wenlong of  Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court respectively reviewed the reports of this unit.

Professor Liu Jinxiang mainly commented on the reports of Professor Shen Jianfeng, Associate Professor Zhou Changzheng and Associate Professor Hu Ling. Prof. Liu thought Prof. Shen's report was wonderful, vivid and impressive. He affirmed Prof.  Zhou’s exploration of occupational injuries from different perspectives. And he believed that the report delivered by Associate Professor Hu Ling aimed to show that labor law research must go beyond the walls.

Judge Guo Wenlong admired the five reports were both of theoretical depth and practical significance. Judge Guo thought the reports of the German professors, especially the functions of the works union, had a lot to learn from. He expressed his appreciation for Lawyer Lu Yin’s concern about GDPR and employees' information challenges, and pointed out the dilemma that China may face on the issue of the right to be forgotten. Finally, Judge Guo believed that how to make good use of legal toolbox would be the main way to solve the challenges social law faced in the new technological era when the existing legislation is insufficient.

The closing ceremony of the conference was hosted by Associate Professor Wu Wenfang, Assistant Dean of the Law School of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Professor Wang Quanxing from SUFE Law School made a closing speech. Assoc. Prof. Wu explained the background, opportunity and research prospects of this seminar. Prof. Wang pointed out that the research on this topic should start with eight pairs of research ideas. He said, this international seminar has inspired us a lot. Discussing issues in social law with German scholars and practitioners was not only an opportunity to consolidate friendship, but also a process of mutual learning. The problems raised throughout the conference were also worthy of further study in future work.

Contributed by Luo Xuan

Photopraph by Liu Jie

Published:2019-04-03 Hit:19
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