‘Gig economy platforms’ create about 100,000 jobs – report

‘Gig economy platforms’ create about 100,000 jobs – report
Country Manager of Fairwork Ghana Project, Thomas Anning-Dorson
  • but fail to meet minimum standards of fair work 

A 2021 Fairwork Ghana report on ten major gig economy platforms – such as Uber, Bolt, Jumia Food among others – has shown that despite job opportunities created by these services, they are yet to meet the minimum standards of fair work.

According to the report, which was based on desk research and interviews with workers and managers using the platforms in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi between May and October 2021, what is known as the ‘gig economy’ has created job opportunities for an estimated 60,000 – 100,000 Ghanaians.

However, Country Manager of Fairwork Ghana Project, Thomas Anning-Dorson, said findings on fair pay revealed that none of the platforms could guarantee that their workers earn enough to make a decent living after covering for work-related costs.

He said while workers on nine of the ten platforms earned the minimum wage after accounting for work-related average costs of GH¢12.53p per day, there was insufficient evidence that workers on any of the ten platforms earned the living wage rate after accounting for costs of GH¢35.4p per day.

“The fair pay is such that we don’t take averages but look at the fact that every single worker on the platform should be able to earn the threshold,” he added.

For fair conditions, half of the platforms have taken actions to protect workers from work-related risks. However, unsafe working conditions remain a major concern among workers interviewed.

Also, for fair contracts, only two out of the 10 platforms analysed provided evidence of clear and accessible contracts or terms of service. And for fair management, half of the platforms assessed by researchers have a formalised process whereby workers can appeal decisions.

The ten platforms studied are: Uber, Bolt, Bolt Food, Yango, Black Ride, Swift Wheel, IFerch, Eziban, Jumia Food and Glovo.

Fundamental labour rights

The report reiterated that employees are not entitled to any fundamental labour rights – including joining trade unions to bargain for better working conditions, as only two platforms, Black Ride and Eziban, allow for collective representation of workers under the fair representation principle.

In view of this, the researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Ghana Business School have called for stronger protections and more robust labour standards in the Ghanaian platform economy.

Professor of Internet Geography at Oxford Internet Institute and Director of Fairwork, Mark Graham, said the low scores of many popular platforms in the Fairwork Ghana league table clearly demonstrate the need for regulatory intervention to ensure that gig workers are no longer falling through the cracks – which has been further exacerbated through the pandemic.

Chairman of the National Alliance of Digital Drivers Union-Ghana (NADDU), Bismark Fiifi Tetteh, also called for government and parliament to revise Ghana’s labour laws to cover the new forms of work brought about by the digital revolution; adding that the Labour Department should use the Fairwork benchmark to regulate the labour practices of all digital platforms.

He said the report will help set the standard for fair working practices in the Ghanaian platform economy.

“The Fairwork principles are tried and tested in different countries, and provide the needed benchmark for the assessment of all digital platforms in Ghana. From now on, there will be no hiding place for platforms which have deliberately ignored the plight of platform workers in Ghana. The scores awarded to platforms in this report confirm what workers have been saying for the past few years,” he said.

“After Fairwork’s engagement with some of the platform managers, several platforms including Black Ride have made changes to their policies to improve working conditions; such as setting up an anti-discrimination policy and announcing their willingness to negotiate with unions or workers’ associations.

“However, the fact that most platforms are yet to meet basic standards shows the need for further intervention in the sector,” Richard Boateng-Project Lead and a Professor of Information Systems at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), has said.

About Fairwork

Fairwork is a global project based at the Oxford Internet Institute and the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre. Through a global network of researchers, Fairwork evaluates working conditions on digital platforms and ranks them based on five principles of fair work.

Globally, Fairwork collaborates closely with workers, platforms, advocates and policymakers to envision and build a fairer future of work.

The Fairwork Ghana project is hosted by the University of Ghana’s Business School and implemented in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).


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