The ‘gig economy’ takes on some damage… November 1, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As noted in signs of hope, and as the Observer (and EWI) reports this weekend:
Things are getting decidedly uncomfortable for employers in the informal gig economy. Last Friday’s long awaited employment tribunal judgement decide two Uber drivers weren’t self-employed and should be paid the ‘national living wage’ and holiday pay. The ride-hailing app had argued that the drivers, like the other 40,000 it uses in the UK are independent contractors who choose when and where to work.
As the Observer notes:
That notion always sounded fanciful, despite the free-wheeling life evoked by the gig economy’s name. Few people earning a few quid an hour have that much autonomy: one of the drivers told the tribunal he was put under ‘tremendous pressure’ to work long hours.
The GMB union has accused Uber of misleading its drivers by claiming last week’s tribunal decision on working conditions only affects two drivers involved in the case.
I hate that term ‘gig economy’. It reifies frankly squalid work practices. And how could it be otherwise that people weren’t pressurised into working more – they need the money. We all do.
This disconnect between reality and appearance is all too prevalent.
The tribunal judges dismissed Uber’s claim that its London operation was a mosaic of thousands of small businesses linked by a technology platform as “faintly ridiculous”. They said Uber resorted to “fictions, twisted language and even brand new terminology” to portray their drivers as self-employed.
Another aspect is that the ‘gig economy’ is continually overstated in terms of its size. Difficult not to believe that there’s a certain expedience in doing so for some.
There genuinely is no alternative for most workers other than stable well paid, good conditions, jobs. It is that simple and all those peddling an alternative narrative that a ‘gig economy’ could somehow provide that are simply incorrect.
I think it is interesting that there’s a push-back against it. I am – on reflection – not hugely surprised that that push-back seems to be gaining ground. There’s always been something cosmetic about the gig economy and the arguments made about it. Again, that disconnect between the reality of it for many and the supposed nature of it has been too great.
Of course there’s space for individuals to do more, or less, but to see it as a viable template for millions upon millions is delusionary. But there’s surely ways to craft flexible structures which don’t exploit workers.