CARE White Paper – Issue #15: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers

by Dr. Leon Salter and Prof. Mohan Dutta, Center for Culture – Centered Approach to Research & Evaluation

Executive Summary
Gig work refers to forms of labour that are mediated by online platforms, which are contingent, piecemeal and individualised, offering little in the way of employment rights, protections or capacity for collective organising. It represents long-term trends towards the neoliberalisation of work, which until recently, have been disproportionately experienced by exploited, precarious workers in the global South. In the context of global North nations such as Aotearoa New Zealand, evidence has linked the growth of gig work with poor health outcomes for workers, particularly for ethnic minorities and women, outcomes which have been
exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, little is known about the experiences of gig workers in Aotearoa New
Zealand, including the nature and quality of their day-to-day work, or how they
have negotiated the disruption and risk brought to bear by the COVID-19
pandemic. Largely erased from the conceptual frameworks examining gig work are
the voices of workers. This white paper takes a Culture-Centered Approach (CCA)
to gig work, seeking to co-create voice infrastructures in partnership with gig
workers, attending to the classed, raced, gendered nature of gig work, and the ways
in which the structural characteristics of gig work which ingrain precarity are
exacerbated by the pandemic.

Drawing on 25 in-depth interviews with participants who are currently or have
recently worked as rideshare or food delivery gig workers, this report argues that
platformed work – organised and mediated through an online platform or app, is
structurally distinct from traditional forms of work.
We find that platformed work has seven key structural features:

  1. piecemeal
  2. precarious
  3. Individualised
  4. Gamified
  5. Dehumanised
  6. Automated
  7. Hyper-competitive

Read the White Paper below

CARE White Paper Launch Event:

CARE White Paper Launch Issue #15: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers- presented by Prof. Mohan Dutta and Dr. Leon Salter with panelists Ibrahim Omer, Anita Rosentreter and Rebecca Macfie.Thursday, 24th March 2022 @ 12 PM NZDT

Location via Facebook Live and CARE YouTube channelLivestream Link:

Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers: Findings from interviews with 25 rideshare and delivery drivers about their navigation of precarious working conditions in a pandemic environment.

About our panelists:

Ibrahim Omer became an MP to represent communities who often struggle to have their voices heard. His experience spans fleeing his home country, being in a refugee camp, working as a minimum wage cleaner, graduating from university, and representing low paid workers as a union organiser.

Rebecca Macfie is an award winning New Zealand journalist, with a background in workplace, health and safety, business and climate writing. She is the author of Tragedy at Pike River Mine:How and why 29 men died (2013), and Helen Kelly: Her Life (2021).

Anita Rosentreter is the Strategic Project Coordinator for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing at FIRST Union. She leads the campaign Real Work Real Jobs, which aims to turn insecure work into secure work. Target groups include gig workers, those in labour hire, and dependent contractors.

#WhitePaper #COVID19 #GigWorkers #CAREWhitePaper #CAREMassey #CAREMasseyNZ #MasseyUni

Salter, L. A., & Dutta, M. J. (2022, March). Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers. CARE White Papers, 15.