According to the claims of a new report, the workers who are participating in the gig economy are being forced to devote ever-more time on the platforms of companies such as Uber and Deliveroo to maintain financial stability even though proponents of the gig economy claim that it offers flexible jobs for people to deal with complex modern lives.
This report, prepared by digital thinktank Doteveryone done in collaboration with a group of gig workers as well as outside research, argued that government action can reverse the situation for the gig economy workers. The gig economy companies themselves can help to make the situation right for the workers by bring in changes and fast implementation.
“The platform economy enables flexible work but not everyone benefits equally,” said Catherine Miller, interim chief executive officer of Doteveryone. “The recommendations set out in this report can happen immediately and show that, in shaping the future of work, technology can and should be used responsibly to create a fair, inclusive and sustainable democratic society.”
There are largely three types of problems that are being faced by gig economy workers according to the report – lack of opportunities for career progression or getting trained to get into another profession, a loss of dignity at work and an acute lack of financial security.
The concept of flexibility of working is almost non-existent in the gig economy because of the low pay which forces workers to work long hours – often more than regular work, just to make out enough money to live. This was highlighted by a London-based handyman who said: “if you want to get the money you’ve got to be available seven days a week.”
The report acclaims that there are hidden costs for anyone working for any of the platforms. The report quoted one Uber driver as saying: “I do 60 hours, I make £750. But then you have to deduct expenses, around £150 on fuel. I can take out £600 but then you pay insurance, VAT for cars. It’s been four weeks where I’ve made no more than £400. You’re just managing your expenses and taking £150-£200 home.”
“I did in the beginning write emails – long emails – pointing out ways the platform could work better for [workers],” the report quoted a 22-year-old courier for a delivery platform as saying. “But I realised that they don’t care about that. If you make any issues for them, they’ll just fire you or find a way to stop giving you work.”
The workers are also unable to move away from a gig economy which results in a waste of knowledge, another problem for the gig economy workers, the report notes. “I don’t know what comes next as I can’t keep working [gigs] as I can’t get a new car when this one dies,” said a 42-year-old driver from Stoke-on-Trent, according to the report. “And I don’t have time [to research alternative careers] or go to the gym – sometimes I’m sitting here waiting for a job for an hour and a half!”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)