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Mindset shift needed for gig workers to succeed

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MALAYSIANS in urban centres are increasingly turning to gig work to make ends meet, or even just to try something new and different.

The concept of gig work, which refers to short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent employment, offers opportunities, especially in a fraught economic landscape.

The gig economy has been projected to add US$2.7 trillion (RM11.2tril) to the global economy by 2025, making it a viable sector to look into even though such work has been considered less stable and lacking financial security nets.

Though some people may have been forced to take up gig work after being laid off, others, like delivery rider Aiman Dani, purposely chose it for its benefits.

Aiman, 21, said the allure of having the freedom to work on his own time was what made him stick to gig work since 2018.

“I get to be my own boss,” he said, adding that the monetary rewards were not bad either.

Aiman became a delivery rider in 2018 and has stuck with it because he enjoys being his own boss.Aiman became a delivery rider in 2018 and has stuck with it because he enjoys being his own boss.

“People have asked me why not work full-time in a factory or a restaurant. I tell them if these jobs can pay as much as what I can earn as a delivery rider, I’ll go for it,” he said.

Despite the intense competition from the rising numbers of new delivery riders and recent calls by restaurants for customers to bypass delivery apps services, Aiman said he could earn between RM800 and RM1,300 in a week.

But he quickly asserted that there was no easy way to make money, as he had to clock up to 12 hours a day on the road.

“Today’s delivery landscape is very different from the despatch riders of yesteryears, thanks to the emergence of delivery apps.

“We can now access and compare benefits, like delivery rates, at our fingertips,” said Aiman, who provided delivery services for several companies.

Originally, his stint as a delivery rider was supposed to be a temporary job to earn money while waiting for his SPM results and later, his application to a local university to be approved. He had planned to study law.

But as restrictions imposed by the movement control order and the current Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) allowed only for online classes, the KL-ite decided to shelve his study plans for now and continue being a delivery rider.

“I am going to use this time to earn enough so that I can pay for my law degree when students are finally allowed on university campuses again, and not burden my parents,” he said, adding that he had saved RM7,000 so far.

Banking on online sales

In addition to food and parcel deliveries, another sector that has mushroomed is e-commerce.

Musician, songwriter and producer Dennis Lau, 35, who started an e-commerce venture by selling kampung chicken in April last year, said the MCO taught him to reset, reboot and reconfigure his mindset.

Lau started an e-commerce venture by selling kampung chicken. This is a still from a video he posted.Lau started an e-commerce venture by selling kampung chicken. This is a still from a video he posted.

He has some advice for those who dream of venturing into this field.

“It is important to start off with the proper mindset.

“Focus on how to make it work, research your product, target market and be alert to current trends about your product so that effective promotions can be created,” said Lau.

From selling 18 chickens a day, he said sales had increased, hitting as high as RM6,000 daily.

He has also expanded his product range to 60 items from the time he started his online food store in May last year.

Lau started with a core team of three. He did the sales and marketing while his partner took care of the technical backend of the e-commerce side, and his girlfriend coordinated the deliveries.

From the start, Lau saw the importance of IT to provide analytics on buyer behaviour for sales forecasts.

“So I turned to my partner who used to do all my concert posters, and told him, ‘Bro, can you create a simple website so that my customers can have a landing page to buy my chickens?’ In 24 hours, the website was up,” recalled Lau.

In terms of progress, the start-up has grown to create job opportunities for others.

“We have five drivers to do deliveries. One is full-time, another four are part-time. We are also working with different vendors including a private kitchen,” said Lau.

From fashion to ‘keropok’

Father of four Fadzli Amin, 41, has traded in his jet-setting ways as a fashion trading consultant to sell keropok lekor using social media platforms.

He made the jump after travel bans due to Covid-19 restricted his business trips to China and Cambodia.

His friend, who runs a keropok factory in Gombak, got him involved in the business in June 2020. In the beginning, Fadzil could only earn RM2,000 a month when he started.

Fadzli has switched from being a fashion trading consultant to selling keropok lekor.Fadzli has switched from being a fashion trading consultant to selling keropok lekor.

But after a year, the Bangi resident is now able to earn twice as much thanks to canny online advertising, so much so he is looking to recruit sales and dropship agents in the Klang Valley.

For those looking to try their hand in the gig sector, Fadzil has some words of encouragement.

“Once workflow is stabilised and a customer base is established, the money will automatically follow.

“Establishing a steady stream of income will take time when it comes to gig work. For those who want to earn well, laziness is not an option,” he added.

Fadzil now sends keropok lekor all around the country via delivery services and post.

Dance videos pay off

The gig sector also has a fluid quality about it as discovered by choreographer and dancer Haslam Abdul Rahman, 35, better known as Alam to his fans.

Expressing dismay over the number of viral videos of fights in public, Alam admitted he too was at his lowest ebb after work stopped coming for him when the MCO started.

To take his mind off his gloomy financial situation, he began posting videos of him dancing with his wife, Nurul Alisya Najwa Hazman, 20, on social media.

Alam and Nurul Alisya in full PPE suits dancing in a cosmetic products factory for a commissioned gig.Alam and Nurul Alisya in full PPE suits dancing in a cosmetic products factory for a commissioned gig.

His followers liked what they saw and shared his videos. At last count, he had 800,000 followers.

“Some of my videos garnered up to two million views,” he said.

With the extra eyeballs came a chance to sell merchandise such as pouch bags, jackets, LED masks, headscarves and cosmetic products to his followers.

One video saw Alam and Nurul Alisya in full PPE suits dancing in a cosmetic products factory for a specially commissioned gig.

Describing his newfound income as “okay”, Alam said he was satisfied as long as he could settle his house payment, daily expenses and feed his 10 cats.

He also hoped his dance videos would remain relevant for him to continue using them as a revenue earner even when the situation returned to normal post-pandemic.

But he is not taking things for granted.

“I am careful not to tie up my cash in product stocks. I do not take more than between 50 and 1,000 pieces at a time, depending on the cost per unit. In case the product does not move, my losses will not be too great,” he said.

Converting art into NFT

Due to the impermanent nature of the gig economy, one must be ever ready to adapt, said audio engineer Kevin Chand, 46.

As work slowed down last year, Chand took to earning a living by building websites and handling social media pages for clients. But that work soon dried up too.

So, he decided to take the plunge by developing a host of web tech apps for the creative industry to sell their work digitally in the form of NFT (non-fungible tokens).

Chand is busy developing a host of web tech apps for the creative industry to sell their work digitally in the form of NFT.Chand is busy developing a host of web tech apps for the creative industry to sell their work digitally in the form of NFT.

NFT is a unit of data stored in a digital ledger, called a blockchain. This certifies a digital asset to be unique and not interchangeable.

“It is a new technology that will benefit artists, musicians, photographers, visual artists and animators. The goal is to build a platform that will convert art into NFT. “I saw potential in this after discovering US$2bil (RM8.3bil) worth of transactions recorded in one month alone last year,” said Chand, who leads a team of seven people on the project.

News items, memes, videos, music recordings, original source codes from the Internet or even tweets are examples of work that can be created or minted as NFTs.

They could be very lucrative. For example, the first tweet from Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter was minted and sold as an NFT for US$2.9mil (around RM12mil).

Chand said his platform’s wallet, which stored the artists’ NFTs once minted, was ready.

In another two months, the creation studio, which enabled artists to mint their work into NFTs, will be put through the testing stage before being launched.

“Right now, we are reaching out to private angel investors and accelerator companies. But if there is none, we can still come out with the platform within 12 to 15 months.

“We are doing work for free right now. There will be no income until business comes,” he said, adding that faith and his mother’s support gave him the courage to carry on.

“Mum is amazing. She is not IT-savvy so she is not able to fully grasp what I am doing. But she has chosen to stand by me. This makes me all the more determined to succeed. At this point, it’s either go big or go home,” he added.



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Uber, Lyft drivers strike to win labor rights for US gig workers, Auto News, ET Auto

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Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.
Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

Los Angeles: Drivers for Uber and Lyft have staged strikes in cities across the United States, urging Congress to grant gig workers the right to band together and push for better wages and working conditions.

Wednesday’s protests – from California to Maryland – reveal an increasingly fractious dispute over how gig workers should be regarded by law and what rights they deserve at work.

The question is under debate in Congress as lawmakers wrangle over whether the self-employed can bargain collectively as part of a wider Protect the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).

“We want a seat at the table,” said driver Alvaro Bolainez, part of a 50-strong protest at Los Angeles airport.

Bolainez urged his fellow drivers to turn off their apps and lay down their keys, saying his pay was consistently and unilaterally cut by the rich ride-sharing companies he serves.

“It’s like a rollercoaster – one week I can make $1,000, the next I’ll make $400 working the same number of hours,” he said.

A spokesperson for Lyft said in an emailed statement that the company is “fighting to expand benefits and protections for drivers in a way that allows them to keep their independence. This is the type of forward-looking approach our drivers want.”

Uber referred questions to the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition, a pro-industry group, which said most driver earnings were on the rise in California.

It also sent remarks from drivers who oppose the strike.

“I treat it like it’s a business and I drive smart,” said 65-year-old Jim Pyatt, a part-time driver in California. “I never make less than $35 an hour and I love the flexibility.”

But at the L.A. rally, drivers told a very different story – recalling days when earnings lagged the minimum wage, of idling roadside for hours or paying out of pocket for vehicle repairs.

Labor organizers want to roll back a 2020 California ballot measure that cemented gig workers as independent contractors after their drive firms mounted a $200-million campaign against a state law aimed at forcing them to treat workers as employees.

A Reuters calculation found the 2020 measure had saved Uber and Lyft $392 million each in costs such as payroll taxes and worker compensation.

“It created a second-class status for all app-based workers in California,” said Nicole Moore, a rally organizer who urged the Senate to pass the PRO act when it votes on a multi-trillion dollar spending package under negotiation.

The law would, among other measures, reclassify many independent contractors as employees for the purpose of collective bargaining, though not for wage laws and benefits.

Veena Dubal, an employment law professor and critic of gig company practice, said with debate fomenting over worker rights, the West Coast was a microcosm of a far bigger problem.

“Although the action is centered in California, it’s really workers over the country participating because they know California is the epicenter of the business model, but the companies are trying to export it elsewhere,” she said.

In recent months, gig firms have courted unions and state officials in an effort to cement their workers’ status as independent contractors in all U.S. states so as to cut costs.

Read more:

Under the proposal outlined in a regulatory filing with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the penalty would be reduced to $150,000, but Uber would pay $9 million to support a state victims’ fund and help create industry-wide safety and reporting standards.



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Gig workers rally in Fresno in support of Right to Organize Act

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FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Rallies were held across California earlier this week in support of the Right to Organize Act that is currently stalled in the State Legislature.

One of the demonstrations was held in downtown Fresno at city hall Wednesday afternoon.

A nationwide strike is underway among rideshare, and delivery drivers, including DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Organizers said they’re pushing for the right to organize and form a union to gain more benefits.

Proposition 22 was passed in November of last year, which made rideshare drivers and other gig-workers independent contractors.

However, rally participants said that’s not exactly how it works.

“Independent contractors don’t get treated like second-class workers. They’re not independent contractors if they don’t have the right to negotiate the terms of their contract,” said volunteer organizer Hashid Kasama.

A spokesperson for the Protect App-based Drivers and Services Coalition said that since Prop 22 passed Uber Driver’s earnings are up in California’s two largest markets.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.



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Micromax Next Product, In 2B Will Be Aimed at Gig Workers

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Micromax IN 2B

It seems that Micromax is gearing up to launch a new handset in India, as is evident by a teaser released by the company on Twitter, that reveals the launch date of July 30 for the same.

Going by the teaser released by Micromax, the upcoming handset will offer smooth performance, long battery life with the focus group being Gig workers. The teaser does not reveal the name of the handset, but we can expect it to be released as the Micromax IN 2B in India, as the device was spotted on Geekbench in June.

What do We Know About the Micromax In 2B,2C?

At that time, the benchmark listing had revealed the main specifications of the device ahead of the launch. This device will be succeeding the Micromax In 1B smartphone.

According to a report by The Mobile Indian earlier this week, Micromax seems to be planning to launch the Micromax In 2B in India by the end of July.

Now, the teaser of the arrival of the new handset on July 30th has further provided us with solidified proof of a new offering from the company. As mentioned earlier, the Micromax 1N 2B visited Geekbench last month. Benchmark details wise, the Micromax In 2B will come with a Unisoc T610 octa-core SoC. The device is also expected to opt for 4GB of RAM. Software-wise it should run Android 11 out of the box.

The Geekbench test revealed that the Micromax In 2B managed to score 350 points in the single-core test and 1204 points in the multicore test. To recall, the Micromax 1N 1B was launched by Micromax earlier in 2020 in November. The device opted for a 6.52-inch IPS LCD display with HD+ resolution and a 20:9 aspect ratio.

Performance-wise the handset was powered by the octa-core Helio G35 SoC. Optics wise the 1N 1B used a dual-camera setup with a 13MP primary sensor and a 2MP secondary camera. The phone used a massive 5000mAh battery with 10W charging.

The report also mentions that the company could release the Micromax In 2C in India next month, with a Geekbench listing confirming the same. The listing revealed that the In 2C could ship with an Unisoc T610 processor with 4GB of RAM. The phone could run Android 11 out of the box.



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