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Posts tagged fairwork
Two Models for a Fairer Sharing Economy

Amir Anwar and I have a new chapter out in The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy. The full piece is available to download at the link below:

Graham, M. and Anwar, M. A. 2018. Two Models for a Fairer Sharing Economy. In Davidson, N. M., Finck, M., Infranca, J. J. (eds). The Law of the Sharing Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 316-327.


Abstract

Millions of workers around the world join the so-called “sharing economy” every day to perform a variety of jobs. Most of these jobs are digitally mediated through internet-based platforms which connect buyers and sellers of goods and services. However, recent research has begun to highlight the many risks associated with jobs in the sharing economy (Scholz, 2016; Slee, 2016). Many such jobs are characterised by temporary contracts, long and irregular hours, low income, and are often unregulated. The work is highly commoditised, and a global market for this work means that many workers feel they are replaceable, with little bargaining power (Graham et al., 2017a). Workers are made to compete against each other which drives down wages. Thus, many workers will earn below the national minimum wage of their country of location. Since many of these jobs are small “tasks”, clients may have no formal or legal requirement to provide employment benefits to workers. In other words, many sharing economy work practices carry with them various forms of insecurities, and workers typically have less bargaining power than in standard labour markets. These risks are even more pronounced among workers in low and middle-income countries, where our research is situated. 

In this chapter, we discuss ways in which the sharing economy can contribute towards economic development by making its work practices fairer not just for workers in low and middle-income countries contexts, but also for those in other parts of the world. We first argue that there is a need to reframe work practices in the sharing economy. In some cases, this will mean ensuring that platforms are seen as employers (and workers are seen as employees rather than being seen as being self-employed) in cases where they exert a large amount of control over working lives. Secondly, a better understanding of the important nodes in sharing economy value chains (that is, points of influence and control) can help formulate strategies involving disruption and intervention by labour so that more value is captured for and by workers. This chapter introduces and reviews two models of cooperative working that could work in conjunction with each other to make the sharing economy fairer for workers around the world.

My re:publica contribution: ': Perspectives from developing countries - It’s the End of the work as we know It (and I feel fine)!'

Earlier this month, I was on a panel at re:publica titled 'Perspectives from developing countries - It’s the End of the work as we know It (and I feel fine)!'. Half of the panel is in German, but if you (aren't a German speaker) can skip through to the English-language parts.

 

 

 

 

 

Help us shape the Fairwork Foundation: request for feedback

In an earlier post, I described a new initiative that we recently started: The Fairwork Foundation. The goal of the Foundation is to certify key standards in the platform economy. By setting those standards, and certifying platforms against them, we hope to try to work against a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions. Workers avoid unfair contracts, and platforms and consumers will be able to avoid acting unethically.

To get this right, we'll need to make sure that we understand what fair work actually means in the gig economy. In other words, what are the standards we want to certify against?

Next month, we'll be hosting meetings at UNCTAD and the ILO in which we bring together platforms, trade unions, policy makers, and academics in order to discuss how to define fair work in the platform economy. But, we'd also like your help. If you have any opinions on standards that we should be thinking about, or ways in which we should be implementing them, we'd love to hear from you. We've created this form for you to submit your ideas: bit.ly/FairworkForm

We look forward to your thoughts, and please do pass along the link to anyone else who you think might have something to add.

To read more about our plans, we've put together this short article:

Graham, M. and Woodcock, J. 2018. Towards a Fairer Platform Economy: Introducing the Fairwork Foundation. Alternate Routes. 29. 242-253.

 

 

Towards a Fairer Platform Economy: Introducing the Fairwork Foundation
fairwork.jpg

This month, I started work on a new project together with my new colleague Jamie Woodcock: The Fairwork Foundation. With generous funding from GIZ, we will get to spend the next year and a half figuring out how to certify online labour platforms - using leverage from workers, consumers, and platforms to improve the welfare and job quality of digital workers.

Today we also have a new article about the project out (in a new issue of Alternate Routes focused on 'Social Inequality and the Spectre of Social Justice'). The article explains some of our initial strategies for the project. The specifics will undoubtedly evolve, but you can get a sense of our direction of travel.

Graham, M. and Woodcock, J. 2018. Towards a Fairer Platform Economy: Introducing the Fairwork Foundation. Alternate Routes. 29. 242-253.

Summary

This proposal envisions a way of holding platforms accountable through a programme of research focused on fair work. It operates under a governing belief that core transparent production networks can lead to better working conditions for digital workers around the world. The establishment of the Foundation and a certification scheme will provide demonstrable impact for digital workers, customers, and platforms. For digital workers, it addresses the twofold structural weakness that they face: first, the lack of ability to collectively bargain due to the fragmentation of the work process; and second, the asymmetry of information between workers and platforms. The certification process provides an important means to address these two challenges, along with building and developing connections between workers and institutions like trade unions and regulatory bodies. New kinds of work require innovations in organising techniques and regulations, and the Fairwork Foundation provides an important starting point for developing these in practice. 

As millions of people turn to platform work for their livelihoods, it is no longer good enough to imagine that there is nothing beyond the screen. Our clicks tie us to the lives and livelihoods of platform workers, as much as buying clothes tie us to the lives of sweatshop workers. And with that realisation of our interwoven digital positionalities comes the power to bring into being a fairer world of work.