Full project title:
Fairwork United States: Towards Decent Working Conditions for Gig Workers
There are tens of millions of platform workers who live all over the world doing work that is outsourced or organized via digital platforms or apps in the gig economy. A 2018 poll estimated that 36% the US workforce—or 57 million people—work in the gig economy, doing work that is outsourced or organized via digital platforms or apps. Despite the potential of such platforms to provide income to those who need it, platform workers have little ability to negotiate wages and working conditions with their employers. With the gig economy growing fast and expanding into new sectors, the platform mode thus threatens to undermine workers’ ability to defend existing jobs, livable wages, and dignified working conditions.
Research has shown that gig work can contribute to at least four forms of inequality: between capital and labour, with platforms capturing the majority of the value created by gig workers; between producers and consumers, with worker power becoming increasingly fragmented; between gig and formal workers, given variable access to decent work standards and labour protections; and to existing social inequalities, given evidence of women and migrant gig workers (for example) receiving relatively worse pay and conditions. Understanding these forces—and enacting change—is imperative if we are to avoid the risk that the explosive growth of the gig economy will entrench greater inequality.
The project will aim to make best and worst practice visible to workers, consumers, regulators, and platforms, shifting the debate about what is possible for fairer work practices in the gig economy. We will also work directly with platforms to engage with them on ways they could improve working conditions and labour standards.
Fairwork highlights best and worst labour practices in the platform economy. Our goal is to show that better, and fairer, jobs are possible in the platform economy and low pay, precarity, and poor working conditions.
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