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Call for Fairwork Partners: Decent Work Standards in the Platform Economy

Posted on 08.03.2022
Call for partners!

This is a call for proposals for one-year funded partnerships with Fairwork, which works to ensure decent work standards for workers on digital platforms. Proposals must be submitted by April 18, 2022 via email to kristin.thompson@wzb.eu  and michelle.gardner@oii.ox.ac.uk.

“Fair Work in the Platform Economy: A Global South Perspective” is an action research project funded by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The project is co-ordinated Professor Mark Graham at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, with key coordinating partners including Professor Martin Krzywdzinski at the WZB: Berlin Social Science Centre and Professor Richard Heeks at the Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester. 

Fairwork’s main focus is rating digital labour platforms – mainly but not exclusively in the ride-hailing, delivery and domestic work sectors – according to five decent work principles: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation.  Evidence is gathered from the platforms themselves and from worker interviews, with each platform being awarded a score between 0 and 10 (see examples here).    

Fairwork’s action research approach intends not just to understand the platform economy across the world, but to change it. By bringing workers, platforms, scholars, labour researchers and policymakers to the table, we work to collaboratively develop and embed principles of fair work into the script of the platform economy. Fundamental to the project is a commitment to being participatory in our research and non-hierarchical within our communities. Our aim is to understand, and counter, some of the forces that disempower platform workers across the world. We are a transnational network of social justice-minded scholars in pursuit of this planetary goal.

Launched in 2018, the project has so-far produced ratings for more than 200 digital labour platforms (both geographically tethered, and remote), and currently operates in 27 countries on five continents. 

Thanks to funding from GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), we are able to support seven new partners with funding of up to £21,000. 

We are seeking partners in: 

Albania, Algeria, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo (DR), Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia.

Description of Partner Activities:

We expect partners to conduct the following as part of the Fairwork Activities in a scoring round: 

  1. Desk Research: Selection of digital labour platforms to be studied and identifying key local stakeholders. Local ethical approval for data gathering must also be obtained. Months 1-2) 
  2. Project Set-Up: initial in-country stakeholder workshop to discuss design and implementation of the planned project with platforms, worker associations, government representatives, NGOs, etc.  (Months 2-4)
  3. Data Gathering: rating of platforms against Fairwork principles via anonymised worker interviews and interaction with local platform managers to obtain internal company evidence.  We anticipate between 6-12 local platforms to be rated, with each rating involving interviews with 6-10 workers. (Months 4-9) 
  4. Dissemination: dissemination of results to local stakeholders with co-development of strategic action plans for platforms, workers and government to improve platform work standards.  Dissemination of results to Fairwork community through attendance at a special workshop, and to international research forums including attendance at an international conference and development of a peer-reviewed research publication. (Months 10-12) 

Please note that all activities are undertaken with members of the Fairwork project team. 

The Budget 

Teams will be funded with a total up to £21,000 for one year initially. Specific budgets will be set up with partners after the selection process. Allowable costs include staff and non-staff costs, related to running the research activities in a scoring round. All budget lines will be agreed pre-award with potential partners. 

Partners will receive the funding from the University of Oxford, and a financial collaboration agreement will be set up between partner institutions and the University of Oxford.  

Please note that financial procurement rules apply to all financial commitments made by partner institutions, as part of our funding requirements.

The Proposal 

Proposals must be emailed to kristin.thompson@wzb.eu  and michelle.gardner@oii.ox.ac.uk.

By April 18, 2022, please make sure to include: 

  1. Lead Contact Person: Title, name, email address, and phone number 
  2. Organisation Details: Name, address, website link 
  3. Supporting statement (max. 500 words):  
    • Why do you/your organisation wish to collaborate with Fairwork 
    • Why is your country suitable for Fairwork to expand into
  4. Statement of Capacity (max. 1000 words):  
    • What expertise do you/your organisation have that mean you are a good choice for partnership. Please include:
      • Names of the main researchers who will be undertaking the work 
      • Any previous research on platform work or related topics (gig economy, platform economy, digital economy, decent work, precarious/temporary work, future of work) 
      • Previous experience running an action research project including running multi-stakeholder workshops, undertaking data-gathering and analysis, development and support for implementation of action plans, and dissemination of results to wider practitioner and research communities 
      • Specific contacts and capacity relating to platform work in your country.
  5. Platforms: Please suggest 6 to 12 local platforms that you would intend to rate against the Fairwork principles, explaining their importance in your local context 
  6. Local Stakeholders: Which key local stakeholders do you plan to engage with as part of the project, and how will you engage with them?   
  7. Ethics: What local ethical clearance will be required for the data gathering and how long will this take? Do you anticipate any risks or any potential roadblocks? 
  8. Action Plan: Detail the project activities that you intend to perform, together with a timeline.
  9. Impact Plan: How would you aim to use the platform ratings to improve worker pay and conditions; are there other actions you would be able to undertake or support others in undertaking? 
  10. Outputs: Which outputs do you foresee being able to work towards (e.g. public media, specific academic journal or conference papers)? 
  11. Attachments: Please attach a two-page CV for each of the named researchers who will be involved with the project. 

The Selection Process

Online interviews with shortlisted partners will be held in the final week of April.  

FAQs

  • What is a digital work platform? Our technical definition is, “a set of digital resources – including services and content – that enable value-creating interactions between consumers and individual service-providing workers”.  Examples include Uber, UberEats, Didi and GoJek. Our focus in this project will particularly be on platforms that have local, in-country representation. 
  • Is rating the platforms the only research activity?  No: the aim of the project is to improve pay and conditions for platform workers and we are open to additional, or possibly even alternative, suggestions as to how best this may be achieved in your local context. 
  • Which countries are eligible?  Albania, Algeria, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo (DR), Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Palestinian Territories, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zambia. 
  • How long is the funding for?  We do not currently have lines of funding to support extension of the projects but, assuming the projects show the basis for improving platform work standards, we will support partners in seeking additional funding. 

For more information about Fairwork, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. Any other questions; anything not clear?  Just ask: kristin.thompson@wzb.eu 
 
Do please circulate to those who might be relevant partners.