Labour laws must recognise digital platform workers – Fairwork Ghana

Ghana chapter of Fairwork,
Country Manager for Fairwork Ghana, Dr. Joseph Budu

According to the Ghana chapter of Fairwork, a global network of researchers that evaluates the working conditions of digital platforms, it is critical for government to broaden existing labour laws to recognise and protect workers of gig-economy platforms such as Uber, Bolt and Jumia Food, among others, to prevent exploitation.

Fairwork Ghana said this at a stakeholder workshop as part of its continuous efforts to map out the country’s experiences in work within digital platforms or the gig-economy.

“Government has to issue regulations. We have a Labour law, so government should quickly revise the Labour law to recognise platform workers as official workers. The platforms are not recognising them as employees. They are seeing them as third-party consultants and, unfortunately for us, the regulations or Labour laws in Ghana have not been expanded to cover this online work.

“One main reason is that their conditions of work do not meet the fair standard of work. Government should recognise them as employees, and when that happens, it will change the narrative,” Country Manager for Fairwork Ghana, Dr. Joseph Budu, has said

Last year, Fairwork Ghana’s report on ten major gig-economy platforms showed 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, what is known as the ‘gig-economy’ has created job opportunities for an estimated 60,000 – 100,000 Ghanaians; hence, failure to ensure better conditions of work is worrying.

“The next thing is that the platforms should see the workers as partners as they claim they are, so their plights can be attended to. It’s unfortunate that their concerns are not addressed by those who claim the workers are their partners,” he added.

Speaking on Fairwork’s assessment of the digital platforms since the report was launched, Dr. Joseph Budu said that his organisation has seen some progress but believes there is still room for improvement.

“Black ride has recognised that they need to speak to drivers as a union. They have a Memorandum of Understanding that they will sign with the platform unions and interact with them on how they can work together for better service of work.  Uber has reduced their service charge from 25 percent to 20 percent.

“Though we cannot claim that these are direct outcomes of Fairwork’s activities, at least it has reduced the plight of drivers – and that is what we advocated. Also, Glovo was using Spanish laws, adjudicating Ghana’s platforms economy issues based on happenings in Spain. And through our advocacies, they now have a local law that suits Ghana,” he said.

President of the Ghana Online Drivers Union, Francis Tenge, lamented the predicament and working conditions of drivers, adding that the transport ministry must do more to help the issue.

“Fairly, I would say our working conditions are not good. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say 3 because we have long hours of working and that puts so much pressure on us. So, us drivers, we work under pressure just to meet bonuses and weekly sales for our car owners. Currently, we the drivers are not being recognised by platform providers as workers; our car owners are also not paying us. So, the only things we survive on are the bonuses,” he indicated.

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