Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries around the world have classified food and grocery delivery workers as “essential workers”. The quarantine and other physical distancing measures have made delivery services vital for a world under lockdown, but in the process exposed delivery workers to life-threatening working conditions.
The pandemic has accelerated the expansion of the platform economy into new markets where consumers have traditionally preferred to shop in person, particularly in Mexico, where online shopping has grown exponentially. The Association for Online Sales (AMVO) reported an increase of 200% in online transactions since the beginning of lockdowns and Rappi, a delivery platform based in Colombia, has tripled the size of their operations in the country.
In light of the rapidly changing digital landscape and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, the question emerges: what kinds of practices and policies could grant stability and labor rights to platform-workers and, at the same time, promote a more sustainable post-pandemic platform economy?
Fairwork is an action-research project that produces annual ratings on the working conditions of platform workers based on five principles of fair work – fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation. The project is coordinated by the Oxford University and the WZB Social Science Center and is currently operating in 29 countries, including the US, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Paraguay.
The new Fairwork team in Mexico will draw on a co-research methodology. By facilitating collaboration between platform workers, researchers and organisers, our aim is to explore the possibility of a fairer platform economy in Mexico. The project will rate the working conditions of Mexico’s most popular platforms with the hope of contributing to the organising efforts of platform workers and the development of advocacy strategies to improve conditions in the sector.