COVID-19 highlights lack of social protections for gig economy workers

Photo by www.shopblocks.com, CC BY 2.0

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
24 March 2020

So. Africa: Research finds gig workers most vulnerable to infection & loss of income during the Covid-19 crisis

Author: Christi Nortier, Daily Maverick (South Africa)

‘SA gig workers may be vital, and yet vulnerable, during the pandemic’ 20 March 2020

Gig workers in South Africa are some of the most vulnerable to infection and loss of income during the Covid-19 pandemic. This precarity is nothing new, says a team of researchers who study the fairness of gig work around the world under the banner of the Fairwork Project.  The Fairwork Project has for the past two years done research into the fairness of gig work in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Fairwork’s researchers hail from the universities of Oxford, Cape Town, the Western Cape and Manchester.  They assess the fairness of gig work offered by digital labour platforms and give them a score. Their research focuses on labour-broking digital platforms such as Uber which connect gig workers with jobs. 

… Gig workers are already burdened with low pay, unsafe working conditions, disjointed management and few channels to organise and bargain as a collective in South Africa. Much of this depends entirely on the platform the workers are contracted to, according to the report… Based on their research, they argue that workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus because they interact with so many people on a daily basis when delivering food, driving customers or cleaning their homes. 

… In addition, gig workers don’t have access to unemployment benefits. This means they might work even when they fall ill because they do not get paid sick leave. This is exacerbated if they have to pay a monthly lease on equipment.  They too may need to stay home to care for children, the elderly or the sick. They have to choose between caring for their loved ones or getting an income. 

Read the full post here

Article
+ Español - Hide

Author: El Espectador

“¿Abuso en los precios? Bogotanos denuncian aumento exagerado en el costo de los alimentos”- 22 de marzo de 2020

 …Desde que se anunció el simulacro de aislamiento en Bogotá, los capitalinos se volcaron a los supermercados para abastecer sus hogares. La demanda sigue siendo alta y, al parecer, en algunos establecimientos se estarían elevando precios de los productos… Desde que se anunció el Simulacro Vital de aislamiento preventivo obligatorio en Bogotá, los ciudadanos se volcaron a las calles para abastecerse de productos alimenticios y de limpieza. Muchos supermercados y almacenes de cadena quedaron casi vacíos y con pocos suministros de alimentos básicos como arroz, leche, huevos y carne. Con el paso de los días estos establecimientos se han visto obligados a tomar medidas para contener la aglomeración de las personas y regular la cantidad de productos que venden por cliente…

 

 

 

Read the full post here

Article
+ Español - Hide

Author: BBC

“Coronavirus: qué hacen los grandes inversores de Wall Street para sacar ventajas de la crisis del covid-19” -18 de marzo de 2020-

 …Con Wall Street en caída libre, el precio del petróleo por los suelos, una posible recesión global y cada día más gobiernos cerrando fronteras o pidiéndoles a sus ciudadanos que se queden en la casa, el panorama económico parece desolador…Entre las acciones que más se han desplomado están las de aerolíneas, cruceros y todo el sector turístico, además de los títulos del sector energético…En medio de una guerra de precios petrolera, el barril de crudo cayó esta semana casi 10%, llegando a mínimos cercanos a US$20 para el petróleo WTI que se transa en EE.UU. y el Brent, que se utiliza como referencia para los mercados europeos…Entonces... si el petróleo está tan barato, ¿quién está comprando esas acciones?...Carl Icahn, el conocido inversor multimillonario estadounidense es uno de ellos. Al menos eso es lo que dijo en la prensa estadounidense, apuntando que ha comprado acciones de Occidental Petroleum…

 

Read the full post here

Article
20 March 2020

USA: Ride-share drivers protest against Uber & Lyft for denying employee benefits during COVID-19 crisis

Author: Kari Paul, The Guardian

“Uber and Lyft drivers protest to demand more benefits during coronavirus crisis”, 19 March 2020

Rideshare drivers in San Francisco [protested]…on Thursday…in front of Uber’s headquarters, demanding the company provide them with more benefits as they continue to work through the coronavirus pandemic. The drivers are calling for the enforcement of AB5, a landmark California law that…reclassifies drivers from contractors to full-time employees entitled to benefits.

[Gig] giants Uber and Lyft have spent millions to resist the law, insisting that their drivers are not employees and refusing them the minimum three days of paid sick leave required by the state, unemployment benefits or disability insurance. “We are workers, we are entitled to our rights and safety,” he said. “We cannot work from home, our car is where we work.”

…81% of Uber and Lyft drivers in the US said they have seen a decrease in demand since coronavirus measures began to be enforced and 80% say earnings are down in the past week,…“We are getting starvation wages…”. [65%] of respondents to the Ride Share Guy survey said they have no other way to earn money than Uber or Lyft. “AB5 has to be enforced,…for our own economic stability, but for the health and wellbeing of our nation and communities”.

Read the full post here

Article
16 March 2020

India: Unions call on Uber & Ola to provide safety kits to protect drivers against COVID-19

Author: Ajeet Mahale, The Hindu

"Ola, Uber must protect drivers amid air of mistrust, say unions", 15 March 2020

Unions of Ola and Uber drivers have demanded the companies to provide them with safety kits so that they don’t get infected with the novel coronavirus.

“Ola and Uber drivers are often the first ones to come in contact with passengers who may have coronavirus. The two companies should not expect drivers to reach their centres to receive the safety kits, but set up kiosks offering disinfectants, masks and hand sanitisers at major pick-up points such as airports,” said... national general secretary, Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers....

[T]he app-based drivers’ union in Karnataka... said the companies should declare a 14-day paid sick leave for drivers as implemented in Australia and the U.S...

Spokespersons of Ola and Uber said they had set up a dedicated team to deal with the outbreak and drivers have been briefed on dos and don’ts to ensure their safety. “Our walk-in centres are equipped with a steady supply of health advisories, hand sanitisers and masks that can be picked up and used by the driver-partners,” an Ola spokesperson said.

Read the full post here

Article
16 March 2020

UK: Union representing gig workers criticise 'paltry' offers of sick pay for delivery couriers affected by COVID-19

Author: Robert Booth, The Guardian

"Coronavirus: unions attack 'paltry' sick pay for self-isolating couriers", 16 March 2020

Unions representing gig workers have attacked “paltry” offers of sick pay for delivery couriers affected by coronavirus...

DPD... is offering [its 5,000] self-employed couriers who need to self-isolate the equivalent of statutory sick pay (£94.25 a week). It is well short of the approximately £550 its drivers with worker status are supposed to earn weekly. DPD has also said costs of renting equipment and vans will not be waived but deferred.

Hermes, which has around 15,000 self-employed parcel couriers, will only pay £20 a day to drivers if they need to self-isolate and only if they typically earn less than £90 a day.... [H]alf its workers will receive nothing and those who do will see payments capped at £280 because they are effectively limited to 14 days.

Deliveroo... says it will offer its 35,000 riders in excess of statutory sick pay (SSP), for up to two weeks of self-isolation if they have... contracted the virus, been placed in quarantine by a medical authority or chosen to self-isolate following medical advice. But it did not specify how much higher the payments would be...

GMB trade union said it was irresponsible that companies which use the gig economy model “put courier safety and public health at risk by creating disincentives to self-isolation”.

There are more than 1 million gig workers in Britain who typically have no rights to SSP and are only paid per job... Couriers are expected to be in high demand during the coming weeks as more people self-isolate and rely on deliveries...

The ride-hailing app Uber has taken a different approach. It said it will pay drivers based on their average earnings for 14 days if they need to go off sick...

Read the full post here

Article
13 March 2020

Council of Global Unions urges govts. & employers to prioritise workers’ health & rights in response to COVID-19

Author: Council of Global Unions Joint Statement (on IndustriALL)

“COVID-19: Urgent Economic Stimulus and Workplace Measures Required”, 12 March 2020

The…spread of…COVID-19…require[s]…[g]overnments and employers…[to] act to protect workers and tackle transmission. The global economy needs economic stimulus that…prioritizes employment, livelihoods and communities. Income support for all workers, including for part-time, migrant, non-resident,…‘gig’ and informal workers, is essential [and]...[s]pecial provision must be made to immediately extend [and improve] paid sick-leave entitlements...

[H]ealth and care workers…will bear the immediate brunt. [D]ialogue between unions, employers and government and collective bargaining are vitally important in protecting workers’ health and…rights The Council of Global Unions (CGU), representing 200 million workers [globally], calls upon governments to: extend paid sick leave entitlements;...extend social protections to all workers;…enact stimulus packages, aim[ing] to sustain jobs,…wages, the welfare of workers, and small- and medium-sized businesses…

[The] CGU calls upon employers to: recognize and bargain with trade unions; exercise their duty of care for all workers in their business and supply chains and maintain contracts with suppliers; prioritizing the rights and welfare of these workers in their response; involve workers’ representatives in [mitigation] processes...; ensure health protections and plans are in place…; protect wages and…pay…; establish compensation funds…; offer customized and responsible workplace and working arrangements...

Read the full post here

Article
13 March 2020

UK: Delivery firm Hermes to compensate couriers told to self-isolate due to Covid-19, following union warnings

Author: Robert Booth, The Guardian

"Delivery firm Hermes to pay gig workers if they must self-isolate", 6 March 2020

One of the UK’s largest gig economy delivery firms has announced it will pay its self-employed couriers if they are told to self-isolate because of coronavirus, despite not normally providing sick pay.

Hermes, whose 15,000 couriers are normally paid only if they complete a parcel delivery or collection for retailers including John Lewis and Asos, said... it had set aside a £1m support fund.

The move follows warnings from trade unions that a lack of sick pay for the more than 1 million gig economy workers could accelerate the spread of the virus, as workers would face financial difficulties if they did not carry on regardless of their or others’ health...

The GMB trade union welcomed the move by Hermes... “This is a very welcome step in the right direction, and all employers across the UK should follow their example.”...

[C]hief executive of Hermes UK [said] “We have taken the decision to help support our couriers financially if they need help and also ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus. It is simply the right thing to do and I hope that other organisations will follow our lead.”

Hermes said it would also help couriers find someone to deliver on their behalf if they did not have a substitute. Usually that responsibility falls on the courier. It said it would also guarantee that their rounds would be kept open for them for when they returned.

Read the full post here

Article
13 March 2020

USA: COVID-19 outbreak exposes lack of safety net for gig workers, as lawmakers & gig companies look for solutions

Author: Kaelyn Forde, Al Jazeera

“Coronavirus highlights lack of safety net for gig workers”, 13 March 2020

Ride-share drivers, nannies and carers for the elderly, freelancers, house cleaners, fitness instructors and delivery people are among those who could feel the pinch [due to the coronavirus]. [36] percent of Americans participate in the gig economy in some way…and while [it] offers flexibility, they…have virtually no safety net. [L]awmakers…have called for…enhanced paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, food assistance and affordable coronavirus testing and treatment. Uber and Lyft, as well as…DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart, are…discussing ways of setting up a fund to help drivers affected by the coronavirus.

Out-of-pocket medical costs can become an enormous burden for independent contractors as well,…the average three-day hospital stay in the US cost[ing] about $30,000. President Donald Trump announced his plan to defer payments on federal loans to small businesses,…defer taxes for businesses [and]…relief for hourly workers. [P]eople vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus - such as the elderly…are often the ones responsible for caring for them and delivering food and medicine to their homes.

It is the uncertainty of how much the virus will spread - and how much it will disrupt daily life - that has made many gig workers worry. A recent study by the Federal Reserve found that nearly 40 percent of US households would struggle with an unexpected $400 expense, let alone go weeks or months without income. "It might change people's minds about the need for healthcare access for gig-workers, as it's now a public safety issue, not purely social justice”.

Read the full post here

Article
12 March 2020

Uber & Lyft to compensate drivers quarantined or diagnosed with Covid-19

Author: Kari Paul, The Guardian

"Coronavirus forces companies like Uber and Lyft to reckon with workers' rights", 11 March 2020

Uber and Lyft achieved multi-billion dollar valuations by classifying drivers as independent contractors who are ineligible for benefits. Now the spread of coronavirus may force the gig economy to reform.

Both companies have announced funds to compensate drivers who have been quarantined or diagnosed with Covid-19, in response to pressure from those who say they cannot afford to take time off work even if they are sick.

The two weeks of compensation now being offered represent a concession in the fight gig companies have spent years and millions of dollars waging – that drivers are not full-time employees.

“Sick leave is something generally only provided to employees,” said Eve Wagner, a California-based employment attorney. “If you grant someone paid time off, that implies employee status.”...

Read the full post here