Decent Work Standards for Gig Workers in Indonesia

Posted on 01.10.2020
Gig workers on motorcycles

Introducing Fairwork’s team in Indonesia who are working to promote better working conditions for gig workers in the largest digital economy in Southeast Asia

We are very excited to announce that Fairwork’s rating system will be implemented in Jakarta, Indonesia by Treviliana Eka Putri, Paska Darmawan, and the team at the Center for Digital Society (CfDS), Universitas Gadjah Mada, following a pilot study undertaken in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in October 2019. The project is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre via the Centro Latam Digital and University of Cape Town as part of the “Future of Work in the Global South” initiative.

With the largest digital economy in Southeast Asia, valued at $40 billion in 2019, Indonesia is home to an increasing number of online labour platforms. Most of these platforms, however, do not regard gig workers as employees, regardless of the fact that their core business is built on the labour of these gig workers. Indonesia has not yet adapted its labour laws to the new reality of digital labour and gig work, with the 2003 Manpower Law failing to recognise these workers as employees. Without the appropriate regulatory framework, many gig workers in the country lack access to essential employment protection and operate under precarious labour conditions.

This situation has become more dramatic since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. For instance, limitations of physical movement made it very difficult for those working in the ride-hailing sector, especially two-wheeler drivers, to sustain their operations. This resulted in drivers forced to go back to their hometowns (mudik) because of the drastic drop in their incomes. Although some platforms have introduced special measures for workers regarding COVID-19, mainly regarding health and safety protection, they have not taken sufficient action to adequately protect workers, such as offering financial support. Ultimately, the platform’s response to the crisis has further highlighted the legal vulnerability and lack of protection of gig workers already seen in the pre-COVID-19 era.

The newly formed Fairwork team in Indonesia will implement the Fairwork principles within the Indonesian context, interviewing workers and platform executives, analysing the evidence to develop platforms’ scores, and disseminating the results to stakeholders to influence change. We believe the Fairwork framework can contribute greatly to the ongoing social and policy debates on the platform economy in Indonesia and ultimately help promote fairer working conditions for gig workers in Indonesia, and Southeast Asia more broadly.