top of page
검색

[Research]"Gig Workers Deserve Better" for ride-hail and food delivery platform workers

최종 수정일: 2023년 8월 21일





"Gig Workers Deserve Better"

Research project (April, 2023-August 2023)







As a part of the larger research initiative, "UP-BC Precarity (Understanding Precarity in British Columbia, Canada)" by Simon Fraser University, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and BC Federation of Labour, the aim of this project, "Gig Workers Deserve Better," was to understand work precarity in the ride-hail and food delivery sectors in British Columbia, Canada and to close the loopholes in legislation and make sure gig workers are fully protected by British Columbia's workplace laws including the Employment Standards Act, Workers Compensation Act and Labour Relations Code.




The initially proposed tasks of my role as a Research Assistant for this project included:

  1. Closely work with the BC Federation of Labour

  2. Interview 50 gig workers (ride-hail and food delivery sectors) -> We ended up interviewing 32 workers.

  3. Design and launch an online survey

  4. Analyze the data

  5. Write a final report at the end of the project


Having 10 years of experiences of interviewing diverse stakeholders from high-profile figures like the President of ECB, Madame Christine Lagarde, to elementary school students while working in the financial journalism industry, I knew that my professional and qualitative research skills could help move the project forward. And I joined the team in April, 2023.



#Platform Economy #Gig work #Gig economy


<above> Interviewing Madame Christine Lagarde, President of European Central Bank (2017)








<left> Interviewing the former US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, during Jeju Peace Form (2016)














<right> Key note speech at Curiosity Project on career development in media industry










<left> Reporting at Arirang Radio






Considering the primary work force of the ride-hail and food delivery industries are minoritized members of the society, our goal was to shed light on the workers' voices, experiences, challenges, and hardships that are told from the perspective of the racialized, minoritized immigrants and migrants, and to bring immediate attention for changes at policy level.



  1. Lit review + Creating a Timeline


This 4-month long project began on April 24th, 2023.


Beginning with an orientation, my first task was to read copious amount of reports, articles, existing data about the ride-hail and food-delivery industry and where things stand at the policy level. Familiarizing myself with the literature and contextualizing our research was the main focus. I got support from various members at this stage. Then, my task was to create a project timeline for the next 13 weeks to ensure we hit each goal (interview/survey/report). Throughout the project, the biggest challenge was to fit all the proposed goals within this very short period of time with my limited work contract. All in all, we managed to successfully hit each target goal but we indeed had to extend my work contract by 2 additional weeks.







2. Start designing interview scripts & survey


This was a lot of back and forth process between myself and the directors involved in this project. I designed the draft of both focus group interview questions and survey and got reviews, feedback, edited, again got reviews, feedback and edited. Focus group script went a bit faster than the survey as a pilot project had already taken place in the previous year.


Based on this pilot project, we refined and perfected the focus group interview questions. We designed two different scripts for A) workers who are currently actively working in this industry and B) those workers who may have worked in this industry but no longer work.



3. Ethics process, recruitment process + setting up focus group interview locations


As I was newly added to the research team, we had to go through the ethics process once again. Ethics approval can take weeks sometimes. So I intervened on behalf of my directors to ensure we could speed up the process and save our resources. (Of course, this kind of intervention requires sufficient communication with the team and it needs to be done with discretion as my role is "research assistant").


We also faced some challenges when recruiting focus group participants.


Ways to recruit research participants:

1. Social media ads - Facebook

2. Messenger groups - WhatsApp communities

3. Personal platform (twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

4. Physical recruitment - going out to an airport to meet with Uber & Lyft drivers, restaurant hot spots to meet food delivery workers, handing out fliers

5. Using existing networks and relevant organization



Gig Workers Deserve Better





This is a screenshot of the link tree (above) that I created so that participants could easily find the links to the focus group sign-up sheet as well as demographic survey.


My initial thought of recruitment only involved online method, thinking that this would suffice. But later, we had to utilize all creative methods to bolster the recruitment process.


Setting up an appropriate location for the focus group interviews was also important. We had to consider a location that was not too difficult for workers to come to and had ample parking spaces. Considering these conditions, we chose a local library where there were plenty of parking spaces and a location that was not too far from most workers in Metro Vancouver.


We also wanted to have a diversified pool of participants. Some directors conducted Panjabi focus group interviews. I got in contact with a Korean worker who then referred me to another participant.


So a lot of additional research, finding the right folks, and real team effort was required for this recruitment process.




4. Challenges of Focus Group interviews as a research assistant


I must disclose, as a female researcher who looks relatively younger than her age, this comes with several challenges. I worked as a public figure for a long time so this wasn't such an issue while working in South Korea. But in Canada, where most people often see me as an expat, living and working in a country where I am also categorized as a minority, there were times that some of the research participants would act rudely, would not listen to my instructions, or even respond to my emails demanding certain things that I am not in the authority of approving. Some focus group interviews were very frustrating and exhausting. After the 1 and a half hour session, I'd be mentally and physically exhausted and not be able to do anything else for another couple of hours.


The first few times were fine. But when such instances accumulated, it put a huge toll on one's mental health and I also needed to ensure I put health boundary between my research work and my personal life.


Of course, there were many participants who were eager to share their expertise and honest views which I am very thankful for and greatly appreciated. I always make sure I put the interviewees' well-being as the foremost priority when conducting interviews. Nonetheless, when the research involves human subjects, ensuring protection for both parties, the researcher as well as research participants, becomes an incredibly important matter.



5. Online Survey


With online survey, we also faced some challenges to recruit survey participants. We needed to make sure that the survey participants are those workers who actively engage in the industry so that they can provide relevant answers and insights to our questions.


Because we had a screening question in the beginning of the survey, almost 200 survey takers were immediately screened. We needed more active workers for the survey. So then, some of our directors made physical trips to the Vancouver airport, downtown restaurant hotspots to meet with workers in-person, shared fliers about our project and encouraged them to take our survey. This involved multiple members' efforts and at the end of 2 weeks of promoting our project, we hit over 100 active workers' survey responses.



6. Analysis and Writing report


This is personally my favorite part of research: analyzing and writing a cogent argument based on evidence-based data.


The main objective of "Gig Workers Deserve Better" is to close the loopholes in legislation and make sure gig workers are fully protected by British Columbia's workplace laws including the Employment Standards Act, Workers Compensation Act and Labour Relations Code to address gig workers' flexibility without compromising basic rights and protections, including:

  • fair pay for all the hours they work,

  • health and safety protections,

  • paid sick days,

  • compensation for injuries on the job,

  • holiday pay, and

  • transparency and accountability from gig companies.



The below is an excerpt of the executive summary:


Key Themes of What We Heard:


“No pay transparency, most of the time, customer charged different, and we're paid different amount. Not knowing where we're headed beforehand. We only know the drop-off location once we reached and picked up customer. The distance traveled to pick-up the customer is not paid which is disappointing.” – Survey respondent


1. There was a robust debate about how to define "flexibility" among full-time gig workers and part-time gig workers and whether workers indeed had a control over those "flexible" hours.

2. Overwork has become a normal standard for many workers to offset the increasing housing costs, post-pandemic inflation, and surging gas prices post-pandemic.

3. Unclear pay structure of app-based work made the workers’ working conditions more precarious.

4. Workers experience algorithmic wage differences.

5. Post-pandemic inflation meant increasing maintenance costs for the workers (e.g., fuel, cell phone data, insurance, and more).

6. No compensation during the wait time for the next assignment and parking while food delivery.

7. Assignment pay did not reflect long waits in traffic, late passengers, or slow restaurant work.

8. Ride-hail drivers relied heavily on promotions and tips.

9. Workers expressed that many of these app-based companies treated the workers unfairly. They raised their voice on imminent change on unfair worker rating system and the issue of deactivation.

10. Safety was a top concern for many workers (ex. lack of information regarding insurance and their safety rights as well as limited access to speak to the right personnel in the company).

11. More than 90% of gig workers said 'yes' to forming a union in order to negotiate higher employment standards if they had an option to do so.

12. Post-COVID, ride-hail platform companies expanded and opened their operations in regions beyond Metro Vancouver. Workers expressed that no limitation on the number of drivers as a core problem for their low pay.



[Other key findings]

  • Based on 1:1 interviews, focus groups and online survey that we conducted, 50% of respondents feel that the companies that run these apps or websites have been very unfair when it comes to customer rating system.

  • 36.11% of respondents feel that the companies that run these apps or websites have been very unfair when it comes to tips.


In fact, there have been numerous news reports on the issues of platform companies & tips.






And news reports on algorithmic wage difference / unclear pay structure:






Below is the table of contents of the draft of the 30-page report that I wrote.










UP-BC Precarity Project (Understanding Precarity in British Columbia)


Dr. Kendra Strauss, Director of the Labour Studies Program at Simon Fraser University and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, and Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)'s BC Office, wrote a report titled "What is a good job?" after studying the work precarity in BC up to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The core of the research is to examine:

1) What is the current condition like in the BC province in terms of work?

2) What makes "good work?"

3) Are new created jobs "good jobs?" or jobs that create more precarity?


When we look at companies that tout to have created many jobs for workers, we must consider whether those jobs are actually "good jobs."



You can see the report down below.




More about their work on UP-BC (Understanding Precarity in BC) research project:





Closing thoughts:


I recently shared a post below referring to Oxford Internet Institute's report.


As more and more businesses disrupt the existing labor system, we, as citizens and workers living in democratic societies, should watch out at least the following 2 things.


  1. Watch out the language and discourses endorsed by platform companies:

Q. When they say their work is beneficial to the society, how is that achieved?

Q. When they say their platform creates more jobs and solve existing problems, what kind of jobs are they creating? Are they "good jobs?"

Q. Are there any fallacies in their narratives when they emphasize words such as "flexibility" or "technological breakthrough" or "the new 21st century model of work"?


2. Keep engaging in conversations about worker's rights and know that we have agencies.


The word Democracy shows that power comes from us, people (dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule').

When the policies need changes, we gotta actively be able to engage and speak for basic fundamental rights.


The development of emergent technologies such as AI, coud computing, drones, etc. will have impacts at various levels and scales on our everyday lives. We gotta remember that we do have agencies to intervene.









조회수 49회댓글 0개

최근 게시물

전체 보기

Comments


bottom of page