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Gig workers – Newspaper – DAWN.COM

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STANDARD employment, the long-term work arrangement with one employer, pension and benefits, is vanishing. The pandemic has made the process faster. Non-standard, exploitative forms of employment have existed since ages and remain the dominant arrangement in capitalist societies. The only difference is that another category called ‘gig’ has been added to the existing irregular, contractual, temporary or on-call arrangements. The unifying factor for non-standard arrangements is that none provides protection to workers. Gig workers constitute a significant number of those impacted by Covid-19’s economic fallout in the Western world and Asia.

‘Gig work’ refers to non-standard employment on precarious contracts with digital on-demand platforms. The nature of work varies on the basis of different types of IT-based work platforms. Crowd-work platforms outsource online clerical tasks (eg data entry, business consulting) to a dispersed crowd of workers. Location-based platforms (eg Careem, FoodPanda, AirLyft) allocate offline manual work, such as delivery or transport services, to individuals in a specific geographical area. Online tasks which require a certain level of education appear to be less exploitative than offline manual work.

Gig workers engaged in offline manual services suffer like any other short-term contract worker. G. Harvey calls the gig economy neo-villeiny. In the Middle Ages, ‘villeiny’ was a feudal arrangement where the worker was held in bondage and his labour benefited the landlord.

Classified as ‘independent contractors’ and not ‘employees’ by work platforms, gig workers are excluded from the ambit of the law and not entitled to benefits. They bring productive assets (often accessed through loans) and work long hours on ride-based payment which the platforms keep reducing to increase their own profit. Take the Berlin-based company Delivery Hero that operates in 40 countries. One of its subsidiaries provides food delivery services in Pakistan. It requires its worker to have a motorbike (and petrol), smartphone and a Jazz cash account. In recent years, Delivery Hero workers have protested against unfair labour practices in Pakistan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cam­bodia, Canada and Australia. In Pakistan, gig workers’ voices and news of their exploitation surface only on social media. However, when local restaurant owners in Karachi boycotted the food delivery service for increasing its commission which would have harmed them, the news was covered by the media.

The battle between capital and labour continues.

Gig workers are raising concerns on key issues: legal classification as workers, exploitation, benefits and the right to organise. It is not just through street power and rallies; gig workers and trade unions are also filing lawsuits in many countries. In 2018, a Hero Delivery subsidiary shut down business in Australia due to mounting protests by workers (supported by the Transport Workers Union) and increasing lawsuits against its practices. In Canada, the company wound up business in 2020 because its workers had begun to organise a union due to a change in law classifying couriers as ‘dependent contractors’.

This brings us to the core issue: definition of ‘worker’ in labour legislation and the fight over it between the corporation and worker. In the US, where capitalist accumulation is the largest, the corporate is the winner. In 2016, transportation network platforms (ie Uber, Lyft) succeeded in getting a bill passed with a carve-out, or waiver, exempting the platforms from a range of labour standards in many states. In 2019, California reclassified gig workers as employees granting them benefits. But the platforms got app-based companies like themselves exempted from the new rule.

In Europe, where trade unions are still strong and the welfare state is not yet dead, the judicial fight is tough. In Belgium, where gig workers are classified as self-employed to some extent, the trade unions filed a case against a 2018 Act which stipulated gig work as ‘auxiliary’ and tax-exempt, hence not entitled to benefits. The court declared the Act unconstitutional. France granted certain protections to some platform workers in 2016. Italy amended a law in 2019 giving rights to ‘digital workers’. Columbia introduced a law in 2020 granting workers protection for contingencies related to sickness or old age.

The battle between capital and labour continues. Luckily, there are pro-humanity thinkers who voice sane ideas. One such policy entrepreneur is Wingham Rowan, the British policy entrepreneur who is advocating the creation of markets for gig work run as public utilities by governments and that are responsive to labour laws and workers’ goals — decent earnings and social protection. Policymakers and trade unions in Pakistan should start responding to the emerging gig economy and the provinces should gear up to draft legislative changes and include gig workers in the labour laws.

The writer is a researcher in the development sector.

zeenathisam2004@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2021

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Ex-Purdue Pharma chief Mark Timney, named in dozens of opioid lawsuits, nabs another biotech CEO gig – Endpoints News

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Fac­ing hun­dreds of law­suits over its role in fu­el­ing the US opi­oid epi­dem­ic, Pur­due Phar­ma is in the midst of full-scale tear­down — but that doesn’t mean its for­mer lead­ers aren’t mak­ing off well. Com­ing off a stint dri­ving RNAi ther­a­py in­clisir­an to a buy­out, for­mer Pur­due CEO Mark Tim­ney has found a new home at the helm of a small biotech.

On Mon­day, At­tralus Ther­a­peu­tics an­nounced Tim­ney’s hire as CEO amid a flur­ry of ad­di­tions to the biotech’s brain trust.

As the CEO dri­ving Pur­due dur­ing some of the worst years of the opi­oid epi­dem­ic, Tim­ney has been named in dozens of law­suits against the Oxy­Con­tin mak­er. He joined The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny as its CEO in De­cem­ber 2018 af­ter four years as the pres­i­dent and CEO of Pur­due. In 2019, he snagged an $84 mil­lion wind­fall when that com­pa­ny was bought by No­var­tis for $9.7 bil­lion.

In a state­ment, Tim­ney said that he was ex­cit­ed about At­tralus’ pan-amy­loid re­moval ther­a­pies for pa­tients with sys­temic amy­loi­do­sis, cit­ing the ex­ten­sive un­met needs sur­round­ing the dis­ease. Nei­ther he nor At­tralus men­tioned any­thing about his time at Pur­due in the press re­lease, ex­cept for a brief men­tion that he held a se­nior role there.

The state­ment tout­ed his years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try and his lead­er­ship of The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny through late-stage clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment and max­i­mized the po­ten­tial for in­clisir­an, a siR­NA cho­les­terol low­er­ing ther­a­py.

“These ac­tions in­creased share­hold­er re­turn more than three-fold with­in one year and cul­mi­nat­ed in the com­pa­ny’s ac­qui­si­tion by No­var­tis,” the state­ment said.

Dur­ing his time at Pur­due, Tim­ney al­leged­ly di­rect­ed sales reps to pro­mote Oxy­Con­tin’s “abuse-de­ter­rent prop­er­ties,” even though he didn’t dis­close that those prop­er­ties didn’t help with over­con­sump­tion of the drug, the AP said. Tim­ney and his pre­de­ces­sor John Stew­art were ac­cused of par­tic­i­pat­ing di­rect­ly in de­cep­tive prac­tices and al­leged­ly gave pre­sen­ta­tions that ac­knowl­edged that the an­ti-abuse tech­nol­o­gy was un­like­ly to work. He is named as a de­fen­dant in more than 30 law­suits against Pur­due from over 1,000 cities and states, in­clud­ing Col­orado, Mass­a­chu­setts and Con­necti­cut.

Richard Gaster

So far, Pur­due has reached a num­ber of set­tle­ments, in­clud­ing one in March 2019 for $270 mil­lion with the state of Ok­la­homa. The com­pa­ny is cur­rent­ly mired in a court-su­per­vised re­struc­tur­ing.

Nei­ther At­tralus nor Tim­ney re­spond­ed by press time.

“We are pleased to wel­come Mark Tim­ney as CEO of At­tralus, as he brings a track record for de­liv­er­ing val­ue for pa­tients, health care sys­tems and in­vestors,” At­tralus board mem­ber Richard Gaster said in the re­lease.

Rahul Kakkar, a biotech en­tre­pre­neur and the CEO of Pan­dion Ther­a­peu­tics be­fore it was ac­quired by Mer­ck, was named as an At­tralus board mem­ber Mon­day. Gre­go­ry Bell comes to the com­pa­ny to fill the role of CMO from KAI Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Glen Fire­stone was named the CBO, Kr­ish­na Gor­ti was named the head of cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and Michael Klein was named the head of chem­istry, man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­trols.

At­tralus’ pan-amy­loid re­moval ther­a­peu­tic is de­signed to di­rect­ly bind and re­move tox­ic amy­loid in or­gans and tis­sues, and has the po­ten­tial to treat pa­tients with all types and stages of amy­loi­do­sis.

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Christopher Robbins Joins Streetsblog for Mayoral Campaign Gig – Streetsblog New York City

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Gothamist’s foolishness is Streetsblog’s gain.

Starting this week, and continuing through the June 22 primary elections, former Gothamist editor and reporter Christopher Robbins will be reporting for us on the mayoral race.

Robbins dove right in yesterday, covering the street fight in Times Square between Andrew Yang and Eric Adams on policing.

The opportunity presented itself in late April when Gothamist parted company with the veteran reporter and union leader for no stated reason. Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton moved quickly.

“Streetsblog has done a great job highlighting the struggles of the city to move from car-dominated to people-oriented streets, but as the election draws near, our reporters have been tasked with staying on top of both the daily fight for safe streets and also dynamics of the election races,” Gorton said. “Adding Chris Robbins to our team will help us expand the breadth of our coverage over the next six weeks. We look forward to some great engagement with the candidates.”

For Robbins’s part, look, it’s a temporary gig, but he’s going into it full throttle:

“New Yorkers are still busy dealing with the anguish and trauma of a devastating global pandemic and figuring out how to move forward towards an exciting if uncertain future. Now we have to pick a mayor, too? My goal is to help us all figure out what these candidates stand for and how they’ll address the biggest challenges this city faces,” Robbins said. “I want to connect existential questions (How will we prevent climate annihilation? How can a mayor stem economic inequality and racial injustice?) with quotidian concerns (Will street parking be forever free? Who will make the buses faster fastest?).

“I will do my best to ask annoying questions, write thoughtful analysis, and report on the current state of the race without being breathless or boring,” Robbins added.

So if you’re a reader with a hot tip — or a candidate who wants to spin your way off Robbins’s hook — email him by clicking here. And follow him on Twitter at @christrobbins.



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Paris Teenager’s New Gig: Would-Be Queen of Italy. A Nation Shrugs. – The New York Times

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