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Gig workers need fair deal in our ‘convenience’ economy

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COMMENT | In a simpler age, there was only one number to remember for food deliveries. Helpfully, there was a jingle that was repeated often on the few radio stations that operated back then. There were fewer digits in the telephone number itself which made it fit better in a melodic hook that was only a few seconds long (though I can’t recall hearing a Malay version of tujuh-lima-lima…).

You had the option of ordering various pizzas, garlic bread, or simple pasta dishes, which were a huge treat back then, what more the novelty of having it delivered directly to your front gate.

Of course, today food deliveries are common. Some are still operated by the restaurants, but usually, they are available through popular food delivery apps, which are the bedrock of the convenience economy.

Consumers are now able to get access to food, goods, and services whenever, wherever, and however they like, made possible by hundreds of thousands of people zigging and zagging their way across cities.

Like many things, the pandemic and multiple lockdowns have sped up the widespread adoption of delivery services by businesses and customers, but it was already a growing trend before that.

It made sense. Why spend time travelling, parking, and all that hassle waiting for food elsewhere, when you can just make a few taps and continue being in the comfort of your own home? There are also a huge number of promotions and deals giving you discounts on your orders, while earning you points for more deals in the future. It’s not a difficult choice to make, and this was pre-Covid-19.

Once the virus was in the picture, staying home was not only the…

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Workers

Feds seek input into gig worker vulnerability

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OTTAWA—The latest Canadian Construction Association newsletter reports that the federal government through Employment and Social Development Canada is looking for input on potential updates to the Canada Labour Code to accommodate gig workers.

Labour Minister Filomena Tassi has issued a request for information, “citing COVID-19 as having exposed a number of vulnerabilities for gig workers and those that rely on them for essential services.”

The government is seeing input on the experiences of gig workers in federally regulated sectors including those who work through digital platforms such delivery or freelance work; and how federally regulated workers could benefit from a “right to disconnect” from their cellphones after they finish their workday.

The initial consultation period is open until April 30. Further consultation with employers, unions and other stakeholder organizations will follow in the third quarter of 2021.

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Welsh campaigners condemn gig-economy employers after report finds insecure workers are twice as likely to die from Covid-19

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WELSH campaigners condemned employers of insecure and gig-economy workers today after a report found that they were twice as likely to die from Covid-19.

The Morning Star reported today that TUC research had linked insecure work to a much higher risk of contracting and dying from Covid-19.

Welsh Labour’s Senedd candidate for Pontypridd Mick Antoniw called for the devolution of the Health and Safety Executive powers to Wales and pledged new powers.

He said: “The pandemic has exposed the consequence of 10 years of funding cuts of the Health and Safety Executive. There is now a real need to devolve health and safety responsibilities to the Welsh Parliament.”

Wales TUC general secretary Shavanah Taj said: “It is incredible that, over a year into the crisis, the UK government still fails to recognise both the practical and moral case for fixing our broken sick-pay system.

“No matter your race, gender, disability or background, everyone deserves fair pay and to be treated with dignity and respect.”

PCS union regional secretary Darren Williams said: “The research highlights the point that it is the same sort of bad employers who deny their staff job security who are also more willing to expose workers to unnecessary risk of Covid.

“We have many members who work in outsourced roles. These workers are often employed in agencies like the DVLA [Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency] in Swansea, where management decisions have contributed to 600 staff testing positive for Covid and one person tragically losing his life.” 

Unison Cymru lead for social care Mark Turner said: “Over 60 per cent of care in Wales is provided by the private sector. That’s why Unison is calling for a publicly delivered national care service in Wales.”

Mr Antoniw said that while employment is legally reserved to the Westminster government, the Welsh administration can promote socio-economic change and ethical employment standards through procurement policy.

“This is what underlies the draft Social Partnership Wales Bill, which is currently out for consultation,” he said.

“Putting the current partnership of government, trade unions and business on a statutory basis and using the leverage of public spending to drive ethical standards, worker representation and promote collective bargaining, it is an opportunity to use Welsh powers to drive change and bring working conditions for many into the 21st century.”

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UK gig workers: tell us your experiences during the pandemic | Gig economy

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In recent months, concerns around working conditions and precarious employment have been voiced by workers at several major companies including Uber, Hermes, Amazon and Deliveroo. They are among millions of gig workers in the UK who have continued to drive, deliver, clean and cook – among many other services – throughout the pandemic.

As part of The Guardian’s coverage, we would like to hear about gig workers’ experiences. You can tell us using the form below.

Share your experiences

You can get in touch by filling in the form below, anonymously if you wish or via WhatsApp by clicking here or adding the contact +44(0)7867825056. Your responses are secure as the form is encrypted and only the Guardian has access to your contributions.

One of our journalists will be in contact before we publish, so please do leave contact details.

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here.

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