Gig economy: not all jobs are decent jobs

Artículo de opinión

  • 24/11/2021
  • Tiempo de lectura 5 mins

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António Augusto Baptista Rodrigues. Docente e investigador en el ISG - Business & Economics School (Portugal)

The study by Mastercard and Kaiser Associates predicts double-digit annual growth for the gig economy sector over the next five years.
The growth projections for gig economy transactions are 17%, with a volume of around 411 billion euros by 2023 - double what was generated in 2018 - due to factors such as the evolution of society's attitudes towards sharing and increasing digitization rates in developing countries.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary defines "gig economy" as "a form of work based on people who have temporary jobs or do freelance work activities, paid separately, instead of working for a fixed employer".
The report The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 states that workers, especially younger ones, seem to prefer working as freelancers rather than working full-time, due to the flexibility and independence that this provides.
The platforms that govern this new labour economy must differentiate themselves. In addition to the retention of freelancers, the quality of service and the variety of options they offer their customers, according to Mastercard, the speed with which payments reach service providers, the efficiency of these transactions and the ability to support inclusion gig workers' financial resources, through tools that help them manage their finances, will also be determining variables for the "good health" of the platforms.
Unlike the traditional work model, the division of labour is increasingly precise and detailed, and supported by an organisation, often multinational, in which each phase of the production of goods and services can be in different countries and reinforces the mobile nature of activities and the precariousness of workers.
It is a computer system that manages the organisation and production; therefore, this precariousness involves the replacement of workers from one to another, without regard to experience, knowledge of the task, the company, or the markets.
In summary, the gig economy:

  • It is increasingly a reality of transformation of work and the worker reconfigured to an autonomous worker, who is subordinate and permanently available for work.
  • Workers are deprived of rights or protection associated with work, as well as the absence of guarantees about their own remuneration and limits on their working time.
  • Companies qualify in their main activity as mediators who essentially have technological means to promote and organise the meeting between supply and demand of different economic activities, but, in reality, what exist are new forms of subordination and control of work.
  • The condition of the just-in-time worker is to be available to be used immediately, but to be paid solely for what he produces.
It is a fallacy to believe that non-traditional employment allows you to choose where, when and for whom you work, being able to choose and adhere to projects that are aligned with your values and purpose, in addition to maintaining a balance between work and family life. In reality, the worker's degree of autonomy is subordinated to the company's determinations because it holds the means of control over work by defining the rules of the game.
After Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum Novarum, John Paul II returned to the theme of work, in his encyclical Laborem Exercens, which affirmed human work as the key to the social issue (LE, 3), and as a vehicle for development of societies, the human person and the family. Could it be that the depletion of the deep sense of meaning that work has is not already a new normality of the labour market in many sectors of activity?
I end by noting in this personal reflection if work and family, dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity are not the essential pillars of the human person, what society are we building? What Europe and what future do we want?
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