Earlier this year, the Fairwork Project, which draws on the expertise of staff at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Western Cape, the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester, launched its third round of yearly ratings for digital platforms in South Africa. The report highlighted the precarious nature of work in the gig economy, with specific focus on how this has been amplified by the COVID‑19 pandemic.
Now, Fairwork wants to engage with organisations across the country to gain further support. The call is going out to corporations that are both current users of platform labour and the gig economy, as well as potential users, offering them the chance to demonstrate their public commitment to fairer platform work.
There are multiple ways to pledge support. Universities, schools, businesses and charities can make a difference by pledging their support for the best labour practices. Local governments and administrations can support fairer platform work by introducing meaningful regulation that encourages minimum standards for platforms operating in their areas, or which are eligible for public funding.
“Our goal is to create a public support system of organisations that are willing to hold gig work platforms to a standard that ensures fair labour practices.”
Socially responsible investors or rating agencies, meanwhile, can help improve the working conditions of gig workers by making sure that they, or their clients, invest only in those platforms that offer better labour standards.
“Bloomberg recently announced that South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world, out of its rating of the 82 countries it monitors. This is a scary statistic, and desperation for employment can lead to an acceptance of unfair working conditions,” said Pitso Tsibolane, a senior lecturer in UCT’s School of Information Technology and one of the Fairwork Project report’s authors.
“By launching this pledge, our goal is to create a public support system of organisations that are willing to hold gig work platforms to a standard that ensures fair labour practices.”
Two-tier system of engagement
Fairwork is offering a two-tier system of engagement:
“We call on organisations to contribute to a fairer future of platform work, demonstrate this support to the wider public, and create meaningful change,” said Tsibolane.
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