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What do you think about gig workers’ conditions? The Victorian Government wants to know

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  • The Victorian Government is calling for submissions about recommendations made in its Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce’s report.
  • Launched in 2018, the Inquiry published a report earlier this year with 20 recommendations to improve gig workers’ conditions for federal and state governments
  • After the consultation closes, the Victorian Government will then prepare its response to submissions and the report.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

After releasing a forward-thinking report examining the the conditions and wages of gig economy workers, the Victorian Government is calling on workers, business and people to weigh in on the way forward.

The state government has invited Victorians to make submissions about the recommendations outlined in its Inquiry into the Victorian On-Demand Workforce.

Released in July this year, the report made 20 recommendations for both the federal and state governments “aimed at protecting on-demand workers”, according to a government statement.

These included:

  • clarifying whether gig workers are contractors or employees, and ensuring their protections and entitlements reflect that.
  • establishing the Streamlined Support Agency to assist workers to understand their entitlements and to help resolve disputes.
  • creating standards that would establish fair conditions and pay, dispute resolution and worker safety, even for those workers deemed contractors.
  • After being established in 2018, the Inquiry considered almost 100 written submissions, interviews with 200 participations and a survey with 14,000 people about the gig economy.

    Industrial relations minister Tim Pallas said the report was an important contribution to public debate about the country’s labor laws

    “The gig economy is relied upon by millions of consumers and workers across the country, but there are holes when it comes to industrial relations that put workers’ rights to fair pay and conditions at risk,” he said in a statement.

    “This report will help plug the gaps that leave workers in these industries exposed and give workers a fair deal.”

    The inquiry’s findings also provided a snapshot of the state’s gig workers. According to the report, the largest group of workers were young (18-34), work on average 10 hours a week, and are mostly there to earn “extra money”.

    The closing date for submissions on the recommendations is 13 October 2020. After considering the feedback, the Victorian Government will then formally respond to the report’s findings and recommendations.

    Submissions can be made through the inquiry’s website or by contacting the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

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    Part Time UFO Is The Gig Economy Almost Done Right – But Why Tho?

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    Reading Time: 4 minutes

    Part Time UFO

    Part Time UFO, an adorable physics game developed by HAL Egg and published by HAL Laboratory, was surprise-ported onto Nintendo Switch after beginning its life as a mobile game in 2018. The game features a crash-landed UFO who puts their giant claw to use helping the folks around town with their lifting and moving problems, all for some nice, equitable pay.

    I can’t imagine how this game played as a mobile title as the joystick controls are perfectly reminiscent of a claw game at the boardwalk or arcade. Your UFO friend drops its claw down, wide-open and ready to grab something. When you latch on, whether to a box of fruit, a piece of a construction project, or a very patient cheerleader, your claw starts swinging around and your grip becomes precarious. The controls are very sensitive, but always fair as you work to carefully hold onto and balance each object. You can also bump objects, try to flip them, and use the momentum of your swinging claw to get extra advanced in your manipulation.

    The objectives in each level range from stacking items up high, building objects with slightly lopsided elements, collecting things as fast as possible, or manipulating heavy objects in a proper series to make the load bearable. They’re all cutely themed too, where in one level you may be helping a farmer, the next, a museum curator, and the next, a fisherman.

    Each level has three bonus objectives, one usually tied to completion within a certain amount of time and the other two based on visual puzzles. When you pause the game, images of what the game requires of you will show, but they are not always completely clear. If you can decipher what they mean though, you earn medals. These medals are required to unlock the next three levels, as well as may contribute to in-game achievements. Achieving all three in a given level unlocks a second, more difficult version of the level.

    They also earn you more cash. For each item you help move throughout the game, as well as each bonus objective you complete, you earn money. Money can be redeemed at a store operated by a somewhat racist caricature of a genie-like alien. You buy absolutely adorable outfits for your UFO at the store, each of which comes with a different little emote-action your UFO does in-level if you press L.

    That’s pretty much the whole game. The levels are fun and increasingly difficult as you go on. The incentives between new costumes and in-game achievements are worth pushing yourself to achieve all of the medals. There is also a “how high can you stack these random objects” mode that is extra challenging, but offers only a local leaderboard and more in-game achievements as a reward.

    The music is excellent and catchy. It’s a simple theme that repeats over and over, but it has slight thematic variations in each level. Part Time UFO also has a local multiplayer mode on the Nintendo Switch. It is essentially the exact same as the game in single-player, just with a friend. The difficulty isn’t scaled or anything, you just have two UFOs working together now.

    Part Time UFO Gameplay - But Why Tho

    The thing about Part Time UFO that I find most interesting though personally, as a card-carrying, multiple 1099 wielding member of the gig economy, is just how starkly this game represents its various realities. When you first being the game, you cold open into the first level without even seeing a menu. Your UFO buddy is just by chance on the scene of a farmer in need of help. Wanting to do the right thing and enjoying using your claw to move things around, you help out. But then, the farmer offers to pay you. He literally makes a comment about how bizarre it is you’ve never been justly compensated for your labor before. He then gives you a lecture about the value of work and provides you with a magazine full of job listings to go off and make more money in the freelance world.

    So, on one hand, I deeply appreciate that this farmer is prioritizing justice and equity in the labor he benefits from. As a basic moral value, his immediate propensity to pay you for your work, unprompted, is the way everybody should treat labor. But on the other hand, his schpiel about the value of hard work and the need for every young person to go out and earn their keep is concerning. Neither humans nor UFOs should be judged based on how much one man thinks they contribute to the workforce.

    He’s also contributing to the hustle-fication of the UFO’s pastime. As so many folks are learning these days, it’s not always healthy to turn your passions into work. It can take the joy and relaxation out of it. Yet, the cute little living space that your UFO buddy hangs out in on the main menu indicates that clearly, the gig work they perform is for additional discretionary income, not basic survival. You use the money you earn to buy cute clothes for fun, not to pay your rent. So this quandary is difficult to assess.

    In a time where so many folks are turning to gig economy work out of sheer necessity because it is the only kind of work that is available, and when companies like Uber and Lyft are fighting so hard to make gig labor less protected and less valued, I’m a bit uncomfortable with a game that is so explicitly romanticizing gig labor. While there are indeed romantic elements, and for many, it is a viable source of income or livelihood, it is not always a just or healthy system. At least Part Time UFO emphasizes just compensation for labor performed. I just hope our buddy here gets good health insurance, sets their own hours, and isn’t slammed on their tax returns.

    Psuedo-serious discussion of labor justice aside, Part Time UFO is an adorable and totally fun little game worth the couple of bucks. The numerous challenging levels, in-game incentives, super-cute aesthetic, and very captivating gameplay make this game well worth the leap from mobile to console.

    Part Time UFO is available now on Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.

    Part Time UFO

    8/10

    TL;DR

    Part Time UFO is an adorable and totally fun little game worth the couple of bucks. The numerous challenging levels, in-game incentives, super-cute aesthetic, and very captivating gameplay make this game well worth the leap from mobile to console.

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