The first Fairwork report for the Philippines presents an overview of the labour conditions of platform workers in the country. Digital labour platforms such as Grab, Foodpanda, Angkas, and TokTok are often hailed for facilitating employment opportunities for the marginalised sectors of the economy. Similarly, the sprouting local platforms are considered valuable tech start-ups that can boost the country’s digital economy. However, this Fairwork report provides essential evidence that platform workers, as in many countries worldwide, continue to face unfair and precarious work conditions and lack the benefits and protections afforded to regular employees in the Philippines.
Amid promises of opportunity and flexibility, the growth of the platform economy in the Philippines has also triggered debates around workers’ legal classification and their protection. The lack of guaranteed minimum wage and social security coverage for platform workers results in underpaid and unpaid labour. Falling outside the scope of collective sectoral agreements, platform work is also linked to lack of job protection and lack of collective voice. Workers from different platforms have faced precarious and challenging working conditions, with numerous reports of health problems, accidents, fake bookings, and even unfair deactivations that workers have had to deal with on their own without much institutional support.
The Fairwork Philippines 2022 Report assesses nine of the country’s largest digital labour platforms against five principles of fairness – fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation – giving each a fairness score out of ten. The report establishes a baseline for the country’s platform economy that will be updated on a yearly basis.
This report captures the precarity of being a platform worker during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Importantly, it also highlights some crucial steps that some platforms have taken to safeguard their workers during the pandemic. This highlights how platforms can engage with social responsibility to foreground responsible technological innovation.
With the pandemic, the Philippines has seen an increased need for on-demand apps, which meant an influx of delivery riders in gig-work platforms. While these apps give access to alternative sources of income, workers are inevitably exposed to various work and health hazards. Workers from the gig economy are at risk due to the lack of labor laws in the country. In return, they fail to receive support and protection from unfair labor practices.
In this 3-part special of DLSU Questions, Dr. Cheryll Ruth Soriano, Principal Investigator of Fairwork Philippines, and the Communications Department Vice Chair of De La Salle University guide us as we embark on the journey of understanding the industry and economy of gig work here in the Philippines.