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New report reveals gig economy thrives off hardship and instability

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A recent Victorian Government report on the gig economy reveals a sector governed by laws that act against workers’ interests, writes Sam Brennan.

THE GIG ECONOMY exploded onto the scene after traditional and secure work plummeted around the world after the Global Financial Crisis. The sector is dominated by tech giants who make their profits by connecting workers with customers, like Uber, Menulog, Airtasker and more.

The Victorian Government recently published a landmark report by an inquiry into the on-demand workforce (the gig economy), which explores the complex laws surrounding the issue and damning lack of worker security.

You’re not an employee

If you are a driver for Uber, if Uber decides your pay, if you get your wage from Uber and if you can be fired by Uber, are you an employee of Uber?

The answer is no, you are not an employee at all.

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Instead, you are – in the flowery language of corporate jargon – an “entrepreneur”, “partner”, “tasker” or “freelancer”. If you look closely, you will find a slate of less flattering, more legal jargon describing you as a “non-employee”, “independent contractor” or even a “small business owner”. These terms all emerge from a gap in current labour law.

Australia’s labour law stems from the “wage-work bargain”, in which an employee will get paid for a willingness to work for a set period of time even if there is no work to be done. The theory came from master-servant relationships of the 18th Century, where the servant would mull around waiting on their master until they were needed. 

Gig economy companies argue that this wage-work bargain is not applicable to them, because their “partners” get to decide their own times and wages are based on a single task, not hours spent ready to do tasks.

This highly theoretical legal distinction has very real material impacts. As an employee, you are guaranteed a minimum wage, the right to collective action, superannuation and more. But a non-employee (a gig economy worker) gets none of this.

For example, a 2018 survey found that the average driver for Uber earns $16 an hour despite the national minimum wage being $19.84.

Furthermore, in 2018 when an Uber driver filed an unfair dismissal application to the Fair Work Commission, his case failed because he was found not to be an employee and therefore could not be unfairly dismissed.

This legal loophole means Uber only has a handful of employees in comparison to their 60,000 “rideshare driver-partners”, the latter of whom are paid by half a dozen subsidiary companies that allow Uber to pay only $5 million in taxes from its revenue of $474 million, or one per cent. 

The argument that traditional workers get paid by the hour, while independent non-employee gig workers get paid by the task is also a false binary, as there are labour laws that cover employees who work to a task. One example is piece rates in agriculture, where the worker is paid based on how much they harvest. Importantly, piece rates guarantee minimum wage and superannuation.

Uber claims that their drivers like the current deal because it provides them with the flexibility to choose the times they work. This is not entirely true, as Uber will change prices to push drivers to work certain times. The term “flexibility” becomes even more disingenuous when it’s placed in opposition to security. 

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Uber’s reclassification risk

Uber, in its submission to the inquiry, said flexibility was the most important aspect for their drivers and that introducing worker protections would threaten this.

The company said:

‘…existing employment law means platforms like Uber are constrained in providing additional support to those who use the app to find work. This is because offering benefits and training to our partners could compromise the self-employed status of the individual.’

This is known as “reclassification risk”, where businesses are unwilling to provide benefits and security to their workers because it might reclassify them as an employee, risking their much-loved flexibility.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen millions of employees working from home at times that suit them, yet still keeping basic protections and benefits, indicating this trade-off is not innate.

Furthermore, it leads to companies like Uber making the bizarre argument that they can’t provide benefits to their workers, because in doing so they would be tacitly acknowledging them as employees and therefore mandated to provide benefits. 

People take what they can get

Industry groups say we shouldn’t really care about all this because it is such a small part of the workforce. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the gig economy is ‘non-statistically significant’ and advises against ‘unwarranted, misplaced or premature’ regulation. 

The gig economy is hard to pin down, operating across various professions. However, a survey conducted by the inquiry found that around 14 per cent of the population had engaged in the gig economy at some point, a not-insignificant amount.

Looking into why people work in the gig economy only further reveals the importance of good pay and security.

Praise and regret for the casual worker

Despite Uber claiming flexibility was the reason drivers used the app, the survey found that the main reason people engaged with the gig economy was to earn extra money.

The report noted:

‘This is consistent with a range of data that indicates platform [gig economy] income offers secondary rather than primary income for the majority of platform workers.’

This should not be surprising as wages stagnate and people struggle to find stable work with a constant rise in underemployment exacerbated by COVID-19.

Workers need more money because they are not getting paid enough or working enough hours. As opposed to employers raising wages or the Government furthering stimuli, the gig economy paves over the failures of the economic system by compounding them, offering even lower-paid jobs to cover the shortfall in low-paying jobs.

Who’s the boss?

Uber said:

‘…the flexibility Uber offers is proving an attractive option for many… entrepreneurs. …partners tell us they value the freedom of being their own boss and choosing if, when and where they drive or deliver.’

Traditionally, a boss has control over the object that employees use to produce goods and then takes a cut of the earnings. The boss owns the sewing machine at a textile factory, the coffee machine at a cafe and the software that connects drivers and passengers.

However, in a strictly legal sense, Uber is correct — our current system does not include gig economy workers as employees. This has allowed gig economy companies to push all their workers into a legal grey area where they don’t have to provide basic worker protections.

Gig economy workers still engage in this exploitative relationship because the poor economic circumstances leave them little choice. It is not a coincidence that many gig economy workers come from vulnerable socioeconomic groups, particularly migrants and young people.

The report made some important recommendations to correct this situation, including new labour laws. However, with the Government preaching the benefits of flexibility and people desperately looking for whatever job they can find, action needs to be taken sooner rather than later.

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Sam Brennan is a freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @samkbren.

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Foo Fighters Announce Intimate Los Angeles-Area Gig Ahead of MSG Concert | RS News 6/14/21 – Yahoo Entertainment

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Whiteinch to welcome pop ‘princesses’ Little Mix Magic and Simply Ariana for gig

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A POP princess tribute festival is coming near to Clydebank next month.

Princess of Pop Little Mix Magic and Simply Ariana will be putting on an outdoor concert suitable for children and young adults at the Well Fed Cafe in Whiteinch on Sunday, July 4.

Nicola Duffy, organiser of the event, told the Post how she was inspired to start an tribute band company after university.

She said: “I had done a Girls Aloud tribute years ago and I knew I wanted to manage my own tribute band. I have always ran my own dance school too which fuelled the desire to start something like this.

“In 2016 I started a Little Mix tribute and then the following year a girl approached me to do a Ariana tribute which was great.

“I love working with girls and giving them empowerment and there really isn’t many companies that do modern music.”

Nicola was able to put a gig on last September before lockdown restrictions were tightened but is keen to get out touring again to give kids across the west of Scotland something to look forward too.

The 33-year-old added: “I just thought I would put on some shows because the kids have missed out on so much.

“Hopefully it is something they can look forward too especially since two members of Little Mix are pregnant. We pride ourselves on being child-friendly and love interacting with the audience.

“The show will be amazing because the venue is spaced out so people can enjoy the music in their own household bubble with hand sanitiser at every table.

“The girls can also get glitter tattoos and glitter in their hair so it feels like they are going to a proper concert. We just hope we have some good weather for when the day arrives!”

The show will run from 12pm-3pm and tickets are £12 each with an opportunity for socially distanced meet and greets with the acts.

There will also be an opportunity to get autographs.

To book your ticket visit eventbrite.co.uk/e/princesses-of-pop-summer-sessions-whiteinch-tickets.

For more information search Little Mix Magic and Simply Ariana on Facebook.



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Global Gig Based Business Market Highlighting Major Drivers and Trends 2021 to 2026 – TaskRabbit, BellHops, Guru.com, HopSkipDrive – KSU

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How the Gig Economy Is Changing Work as We Know It - Collection

Global Gig Based Business Market Growth (Status and Outlook) 2021-2026 aims to provide the most segmented consumption and sales data of different types, downstream consumption fields, and competitive landscape in different regions and countries around the world. The report analyzes the latest market data from primary and secondary authoritative sources. The report covers the key parameters required for your research necessity. The report contains the latest updated data on the global Gig Based Business market landscape. The study details aspects and dynamics such as demand, revenue estimates, volume, share, growth, types, applications, sales, etc.

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NOTE: Consumer behaviour has changed within all sectors of the society amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Industries on the other hand will have to restructure their strategies in order to adjust with the changing market requirements. This report offers you an analysis of the COVID-19 impact on the Gig Based Business market and will help you in strategising your business as per the new industry norms.

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The report covers current as well as upcoming technical and financial details of the industry. The study then includes analysis of the market, drivers, geographic trends, market statistics, and market estimates of the industry. The research profiles and analyzes the leading companies and several other prominent companies operating in the market. Some of the crucial aspects considered during the course of research included product description, product classification, industry structure, and various participants in the global Gig Based Business market. An overall overview of the market is given that covers production, consumption, status & forecast, and market growth.

From an extensive pool of operating players globally, the leading key players in the market are:

TaskRabbit, BellHops, Guru.com, HopSkipDrive, Freelancer, Rover, Upwork, Fiverr, DoorDash, Favor Delivery, Turo,

The report delivers insightful details regarding the drivers, restraints, challenging factors, revenue shares, and market valuation of historic data to provide statistics for forecast data. The report also discusses key marketing trends of the market, regional presence, and country analysis in a detailed manner. It demonstrates the market growth statistics, also restraints that may decline the growth, and also overall market revenue in the future based on the present analysis of the global Gig Based Business market.

By the end-user, the market size is segmented as:

Freelancer, Independent Contractor, Project Worker, Part-Time, Other

By the product type, the market size is segmented as:

APP-based, Website-based, Website-based is the most widely used types which takes up about 52% of the total sales in 2019.,

By the region & countries, the market size is segmented as:

Americas (United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil), APAC (China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, India, Australia), Europe (Germany, France, UK, Italy, Russia), Middle East & Africa (Egypt, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, GCC Countries)

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Reports offer illustrative estimations for upcoming years on the basis of recent developments and historic data. For gathering information and estimating revenue for all segments, researchers have used top-down and bottom-up approaches. The recent development of companies in terms of new launches, mergers, and acquisitions, and expansion are covered in the global Gig Based Business market report.

Significant Highlights of The Report:

  • Top factors like revenue, supply-demand ratio, market status, and market value are reflected.
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