A new poll released today has found that the majority of UK population support a raft of policy measures designed to make the gig economy fairer, from changing employment law to strengthening trade union rights.
The survey, conducted by Survation on behalf of the Fairwork research project, University of Oxford, polled 2,020 adults between the 21st and 22nd of October.
It found that the majority of the public believe that gig economy platforms prioritise making profits over having a beneficial impact on society. Just 22% think that gig economy platforms pay workers a fair wage.
These results match findings from Fairwork’s research in the UK, which found household names such as Uber, Deliveroo and Amazon Flex failed to evidence that they meet basic labour standards such as providing a living wage for all working time or offering channels for collective representation.
The findings also show that:
- Nearly two-thirds of UK population (64%) support changes to employment law aimed at reducing the number of workers inaccurately defined as self-employed in the gig economy.
- Over half of those surveyed (57%) think gig economy platforms should be required to negotiate with the trade unions that represent their workers.
- Six out of ten people (60%) believe that gig economy platforms should be required to have worker representatives on their boards.
- Two-thirds of UK population (66%) agree that gig economy platforms should be required to tell their workers about significant changes in the technology used to manage their jobs.
This support crosses political lines, with a majority of both Tory and Labour remain voters supporting all four proposals.
There is also strong support for even more transformative policy, with a majority of under 45s agreeing that gig economy platforms should be taken into public ownership if they repeatedly fail to offer their workers fair pay and conditions.
Asked what party they think best represents the interests of gig economy workers, there was no clear majority, with only 33% of people saying Labour and 17% saying Conservative.
The poll also shows strong support for objective monitoring of gig economy platforms, with a majority saying they would be more likely to be a customer of a gig economy platform which was judged to be treating its workers fairly.
Mark Graham, professor of Internet Geography at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and Director of Fairwork said:
“These results show an appetite for decisive action to improve fairness in the gig economy.
“The development of technology has allowed for services like transport and delivery to be organised in new ways, but these developments risk being monopolised for the benefits of platforms and their investors, rather than being passed onto workers.
“Given the scale of the social challenges we face as we emerge from the pandemic, there is an urgent need for the platform economy to transition towards working for social benefit not private profit.
“Gig economy platforms need to start making serious improvements now if they want to keep their customers on side and prevent this demand for change from escalating further.”
Alex Marshall, President of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), said:
“This poll reiterates that the tide is turning in the gig economy. Not only are we seeing more and more exploitative employers lose in court and be ordered to give workers the rights they have been illegally denied, but now we are seeing public opinion hugely change too. These key workers have proved their value with the huge shift they put in to get us all through the pandemic and the public are getting behind them in demanding better treatment. A more ethical employment model would not only be beneficial for the workers, but would improve public perception and benefit the business too. Workers’ voices are being heard and this comes as a result of unions like the IWGB getting organised, campaigning and winning in the gig economy and making sure that worker rights remain front and centre.”
Yaseen Aslam, App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) President, said:
“This poll clearly shows that consumers and workers are united in the fight for an immediate end of misclassification and exploitation in the gig economy. Yet, despite ADCU’s win at the Supreme Court it is employers, central government and local transport regulators who are lagging behind broader public opinion and still failing to do right by workers, their unions and enlightened consumers. ADCU is willing to play its part in collaborating to create a better world of work but until employers and government authorities are ready to play their part, we will continue with our strategy of tireless workforce organizing, militant strike action and strategic litigation.”
Fairwork maintains a rating system that scores gig economy companies across the world against five principles of fair work. The ratings are annually renewed and consistently find that few platforms can even evidence basic minimum standards on issues like pay and conditions.
Fairwork has also released a Pledge for companies, charities, local governments, universities and other large institutions so that they can commit to working with fairer platforms and leveraging their buying power to improve conditions across the gig economy.
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