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Technology and Human Rights: Gig Economy

Technology has driven the emergence of the gig economy, creating more seemingly flexible opportunities for people to earn income, such as through ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, or freelance labour matching platforms such as Taskrabbit. From these new business models have emerged unique business relationships which do not often fit traditional labour frameworks. For example, workers with tasks that resemble those of regular employees’ may be disguised as “self-employed” individuals, “freelancers” or “entrepreneurs” who do not have access to the same rights and benefits legally due to regular employees, including freedom of association and collective bargaining. While providing ease in the delivery of needed services and offering flexible economic opportunities especially to those who are unable to commit to the rigidity of regular employment (such as mothers and homemakers), the gig economy has also presented serious challenges to upholding labour rights by being linked with precarious work, enforced casualisation, uncertain hours, poor pay and involuntary overtime.

This section explores the positive and negative human rights implications associated with the gig economy, as well as the need to re-imagine and transform legal and policy rights protection frameworks in order to keep up with the times.

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12 December 2019

USA: Report finds 42% of those sexually assaulted during Uber rides were drivers

Author: Anna North, Vox

"It’s not just passengers being assaulted in Ubers. Drivers are at risk, too.", 7 December 2019...

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4 December 2019

France: Uber drivers strike over 'undignified' prices, 'abusive logouts' & unauthorised drivers

Author: The Connexion

"Uber drivers in France on strike over app changes", 26 November 2019...

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4 December 2019

South Korea: Food delivery workers' union granted legal status in Seoul, recognising workers as formal employees

Author: Lee Suh-yoon, The Korea Times

"More gig workers recognized as employees", 25 November 2019...

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26 November 2019

UK: Bolt drivers protest over alleged 'unfair' dismissals & failure to pay minimum wage

Author: Ashleigh Webber, Personnel Today

"Bolt drivers urge better pay and recognition of workers’ rights", 30 October 2019...

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25 November 2019

USA: App-based delivery services accused of lowering pay with alterations to algorithims

Author: Abha Bhattarai, The Washington Post

"‘Don’t game my paycheck’: Delivery workers say they’re being squeezed by ever-changing algorithms ", 7 November 2019...

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19 November 2019

USA: Rev makes changes to pay structure that lowers minimum pay for freelance transcribers

Author: Pavithra Mohan, Fast Company

"How yet another gig company is changing rates and hurting workers", 13 November 2019...

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15 November 2019

USA: New Jersey Labour Department states Uber must pay $650million in unpaid taxes

Author: Chris Opfer, Bloomberg

"Uber Hit With $650 Million Employment Tax Bill in New Jersey (3)", 14 November 2019...

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11 November 2019

USA: Instacart workers strike over changes to tipping policy; Includes company comments

In November 2019, several thousand Instacart workers went on a 72-hour strike, demanding that the company change the default tip function on its app....

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8 November 2019

USA: Instacart workers strike over wage cuts following adjustments to tipping policy

Author: April Glaser, Slate

"Instacart Workers Are Striking Because of the App’s User Interface", 5 November 2019...

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7 November 2019

Switzerland: Uber faces ban after Geneva government orders reclassification of 'independent contractors' as 'employers'

Author: swissinfo.ch

"Uber faces ban in Geneva if it fails to hire drivers", 1 November 2019...

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