Opinion: For many NZ scholars, the old career paths are broken. Our survey shows the reality for this new ‘academic precariat’ by CARE Researcher Fellow Dr. Leon Salter

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation is delighted to share this amazing article authored by Dr. Leon Salter, in The Conversation.

Image source: Shutterstock & https://theconversation.com/

Dr. Leon, is leading CARE’s work on precarity, labour and digital futures. He is a 2021 recipient of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Science Whitinga Research Fellowship researching on, Examining the effects of the expansion of gig work on health and wellbeing in a post-pandemic economy at CARE, Massey University.

Read more: https://theconversation.com/for-many-nz-scholars-the-old-career-paths-are-broken-our-survey-shows-the-reality-for-this-new-academic-precariat-186303

Dr. Leon is a spokesperson for TEAGA – Tertiary Education Action Group Aotearoa and also an Academic Delegate for the Massey University branch of the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union (TEU).

#Universities #Academics#JobSecurity #Precariat #casualisation #careers #CareerPath #NewZealandStories #AcademicPay #EarlyCareerResearchers #CARECCA #CAREMassey #MasseyUniversity #GigWork #GigEconomy

CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation to collaborate with our civil society partners Islamophobia Register, The Humanism Project and Aman

We at CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation are excited to collaborate with our civil society partners Islamophobia Register, The Humanism Project and Aman to build these Community-led Culture-Centered dialogues on addressing the structural drivers of Islamophobia through the participation of the “margins of the margins”. About the collaboration Islamophobia Register Australia presents “Difficult Conversations”Difficult Conversations is a community-led, culture-centered activating of structural transformation to address the drivers of Islamophobia – it aims to build and implement actionable solutions to help tackle Islamophobia in Australia.

The “Difficult Conversations” Project is utilising the ground-breaking, culture-centered and evidence-based approach to organising against prejudice and racism, that prepares both community participants, and civil society and government stakeholders, for different roles than they are typically used to, and measures the results when they are brought together.

The Details:

Main Conference

Parkroyal Parramatta, 30 Phillip Street, Parramatta (Gidley King Room)

Tuesday 2nd August 9:30am to 4pm

Speakers include: Derya Iner Principal Researcher & Author of Islamophobia in Australia Reports

Mariam Veiszadeh Lawyer, Founder & President Islamophobia Register Australia

Rita Jabri Markwell Lawyer & Advisor Australian Muslim Advocacy Network

Professor Mohan Dutta Director, Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research & Evaluation (CARE) Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication, School of Communication, Journalism, and Marketing Massey University NZ

Senator Fatima Payman, WA Senator first hijab wearing Afghan Australian Muslim woman in Parliament (TBC)

Julie Inman Grant eSafety Commissioner (TBC)

Kara Hinesley Director of Public Policy Twitter Australia (TBC)

Josh Machin Head of Policy (Australia) Facebook /Meta (TBC)

For more details visit: Islamophobia Register Australia on facebook or the http://www.islamophobia.com.au/ website.

#CARE #IslamophobiaRegisterAustralia #TheHumanismProject #Aman #CAREMasseyNZ #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MasseyUni

CARE Event: Precarious Academic Work (PAWS) Report Launch “THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM”

CARE Event: Precarious Academic Work (PAWS) Report Launch

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
Precarious work in New Zealand’s universities with Chlöe Swarbrick, Dr. Sereana Naepi & Prof. Mohan Dutta

WEDNESDAY 6th JULY 2022 at 7.00 PM NZST

LIVE ON CARE channels:
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/live_videos/

YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF760E7rBst3U5GmJ5FhDDw

RSVP on Facebook Event page : https://www.facebook.com/events/580830703389598

CARE Event: Precarious Academic Work (PAWS) Report Launch

Download the report here: https://figshare.com/…/Elephant_In_The_Room…/19243626

WEDNESDAY 6th JULY 2022 at 7.00 PM NZST

LIVE ON CARE channels:

Facebook livestream link- https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/373339864788693

YouTube livestream link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wEYtJ88NHI

Event Description:

The Tertiary Education Action Group Aotearoa @TEAGAUnion will be presenting some of the data from the Precarious Academic Work Report (PAWS) report and then hosting a short panel discussion. Precarious working arrangements are a complex, often hidden feature of academia in Aotearoa New Zealand. The report highlights that in Aotearoa we have a highly trained academic workforce who are engaged in long-term cycles of precarity, with resultant impacts on financial security, health and wellbeing. The report also adds further evidence of inequities present in the academic pipeline, with the system discouraging Māori and Pasifika academic careers, while relying on the exploitation of international student labour.

Presenting the findings of the report are:

Luke D. Oldfield

Rituparna Roy

Aimee B. Simpson

Apriel D. Jolliffe Simpson,

& Leon Salter

About our panelists:

Chlöe Swarbrick

Green Party MP for Auckland Central. Chlöe works tirelessly for bold, transformational action on the issues for which she is the Green Party spokesperson, including young people, mental health and tertiary education.

Dr. Sereana Naepi

Lecturer in Social Sciences at the University of Auckland. A Pasifika woman of Fijian and Pakeha descent, Sereana works to help other Pasifika people not only succeed but also lead purposeful, meaningful and significant lives.

Prof. Mohan Dutta

Mohan J Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Massey University developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.

#Aotearoa #NewZealand #PrecariousWork #academic #precarity #NewZealandUniversities #MasseyUni #CAREMassey #CARECCA #CAREMasseyNZ

Release of Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG) Report to Ministry of Health – HE KAUPAPA WAKA at CARE

Thank you for tuning in yesterday for the release of Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG) Report to @minhealthnz – HE KAUPAPA WAKA at CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation.

As promised here’s link to the report: https://drive.google.com/…/1Ls0YzNhg-i0x…/view

Link to the livestream recording:

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/5599594463393467

YouTube

Website: https://carecca.nz/2022/05/17/release-of-maori-expert-advisory-group-meag-report-to-ministry-of-health-he-kaupapa-waka-care/

#MāoriExpertAdvisoryGroup,#MEAG,#HeKaupapaWaka,#FamilyViolence,#SexualViolence#ChildAbuse,#MasseyUni,#CAREMassey,#CARECCA,#MinistyOfHealth

#MāoriExpertAdvisoryGroup #MEAG #HeKaupapaWaka #FamilyViolence #SexualViolence #ChildAbuse #MasseyUni #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MinistyOfHealth

CARE Director’s Opinion: Caste, communication and the tech sector by Prof. Mohan Dutta

A Washington Post story published on June 2, titled “Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’,” documents the resistance put up by employees at Google identifying themselves as Hindu protesting the platforming of a pedagogy-based lecture by the dalit rights activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder and executive director of Equality Labs. Equality Labs is a nonprofit that advocates for Dalits.

What is powerful about the story is the complicity of the infrastructure of Google in de-platforming the event and in targeting the organizer of the event at Google, Tanuja Gupta, who worked as a senior manager at Google News. 

The disinformation campaign organized by Hindu employees targeting Soundararajan called her “Hindu-phobic” and “anti-Hindu” in emails to the company’s leaders.

I am very familiar with these tropes, rooted in disinformation, that are increasingly being deployed by Hindutva adherents to target critics of Hindutva, particularly academics, journalists, and activists.

Over the course of the past year, in response to my scholarship on Hindutva and the support of CARE, the center I direct, for a conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva,” I have experienced relentless attacks fuelled by a disinformation campaign labelling me Hinduphobic and accusing me of spreading “Hindumisia” (both Hinduphobia and Hindumisia are terms concocted by Hindutva to silence critics of the hateful ideology). These attacks have taken the forms of letter-writing campaigns directed at my employer, threats on Twitter, sexually violent emails threatening rape, and death threats on digital platforms. 

What is critical to this global disinformation campaign is the role of formally recognized organizations such as Hindu Council and Hindu Youth here in Aotearoa, Hindu American Foundation in the US, as well as professionals and business owners in disseminating the disinformation.

In the context of Google, the disinformation is seeded and disseminated by employees.

In doing so, Hindutva adherents draw on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, making the claim that the criticism of caste or Islamophobia in Hindutva violates the principles of DEI.

The Indian Institutes of Technologies that both the Google CEO Sundar Pichai (a Tamil Brahmin) and I attended (Pichai graduated two years ahead of me from IIT Kharagpur), and that boast of having trained the leaders of the global tech sector (IIT Bombay alumnus Parag Agarwal is the Twitter CEO, the chairman and CEO of IBM is the IIT Kanpur B.Tech Arvind Krishna, among many other alums who lead the tech sector) were founded on the principle of cultivating the scientific temper and preparing the engineers that will build the newly independent postcolonial nation.

Inherent in the construction of the IITs is a Brahminical structure that privileges specific forms of merit that draw upon the historic hierarchies of caste in India.

The very notion of merit is rooted in and intrinsically intertwined with caste in the Indian context.

That caste hierarchies and the accompanying oppressions have shaped access to learning resources and opportunities for learning are erased from the hegemonic caste formations that shape education, and certainly engineering education, in India.

These caste hierarchies are intensified in the IITs, with their projection of elite education based on the hyper-competitive joint entrance examination.

At IIT, Kharagpur, the Institution I attended, the caste structure played out in the largely Brahmin men, and the occasional Brahmin women, that formed the professorial ranks. The Mukherjees, Chatterjees, Banerjees, and the Bhattacharyas (Bengali Brahmins) made up these ranks, replete with the taken-for-granted practices of inclusion and exclusion, rooted in caste supremacy. In the 1990s when I attended the IITs, it was rare to take a course from a dalit professor. 

It would be worthwhile to examine the caste composition of the Professoriate in the IITs in 2022.

Caste practices play out in the oppressive treatment meted out to oppressed caste students.

Marked as “quota students,” dalits are subjected to racialized slurs challenging their intelligence and their right to be in the IITs. These racialized slurs were often uttered by peers and reinforced by Professors.

The power of the caste infrastructure is held up through communication, through gossip networks that undermine, through racialized slurs, and through practices of touch and body that exclude.

In 2021, an IIT Kharagpur Professor was video recorded bullying and verbally abusing dalit students. This recording offered an account of practices of casteist violence that are deep-seated in the institutions.

The toxicity of the caste structure is manifest in the negotiations of mental health among dalit students, reflected in the disproportionate suicide rates among dalit students. Students report experiencing discrimination on the basis of caste and religion, holding the religious and caste biases of the IITs as the underlying reasons for suicides.

Caste-based inequality flows from education into the technology sectors, with discriminatory practices around touch, racialized verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of opportunities to dalits built into organizational structures.

Global technology organizations such as Google have large representation of South Asians, with a strong presence of Indians. 

For Indians in such tech organizations, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) forms a key resource in addressing the challenges of organizational bias and structural racism. 

Hindutva-espousing professionals within organizations such as Google then communicatively invert caste, on one hand, erasing the presence of caste, and on the other hand, claiming that any discussion of caste in Hinduism is Hinduphobic and will result in discrimination of Hindus. The erasure of caste oppression then is incorporated into the discursive architecture, denying caste oppression while perpetuating it. 

Salient in the farewell note of Tanuja Gupta to Google is the following account:

“Of all the organizing I have done at this company, I think many are surprised that fighting for caste equity was the lightning rod issue that took me down. But I have an Indian CEO and SVP who both know exactly what’s going on and tacitly approve of everything that’s  happened. I know this because multiple VPs and Directors confirmed that in Sundar’s  Leads meeting, they discussed the need for a new universal vetting process of speakers to ensure this doesn’t happen again. So my hope is that Googlers start to understand the magnitude of this issue, and the threat that their greater understanding poses to the South Asians in power.”

The discussion of caste in global tech organizations threatens the power consolidated by upper caste Indians within these organizations. The discussion of caste disrupts the carefully crafted model minority narrative that is essential to the upward mobility of Indians in the tech sector and to the perpetuation of the meritocratic myth that fuels the tech sector. The discussion of caste threatens to reveal the misogyny, violence, and racism that forms the communicative infrastructure of a cross-section of Hindu society. 

Paradoxically, the claims to DEI serve as tools for shutting down necessary discussions of caste violence in tech.

The silencing of the voices of dalits within organizational structures is violence that perpetuates Hindutva. Moreover, the erasure of conversations on caste in tech forecloses critical conversations on the role of caste in shaping algorithms and platform infrastructures. These are critical questions as the speak to the organizing role of a racist ideology in shaping platform algorithms and search engines. Critical conversations on caste led by dalits is vital to building just platform architectures.

Professor Mohan Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.

Google #ThenmozhiSoundararajan #EqualityLabs #Dalits #IITKharagpur #IndianInstitutesOfTechnologies #Hindutva #CAREMassey #CAREMasseyNZ #CARECCA

Article & Image Source: Massey News

Release of Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG) Report to Ministry of Health – HE KAUPAPA WAKA @ CARE

Release of Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG) Report to Ministry of Health – HE KAUPAPA WAKA

TUESDAY 14th JUNE 2022 at 11.00 AM NZST

Venue: CARE Lab – BSC 1.06, Manawatu campus, Massey University
& LIVE ON Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/5599594463393467

Join us on Tuesday, 14th June @ 11 am NZST at the CARE Lab BSC 1.06 or tune in LIVE for the release of the report HE KAUPAPA WAKA

Presented by Caroline Herewini, Te Awhimate Nancy Tait with Prof. Mohan Dutta &  CARE: Center for Culture Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

HE KAUPAPA WAKA REPORT

Executive Summary:
As a Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG), the advice in this report for the
Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora (the Ministry) has been undertaken with a clear view of accountabilities and Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations.The MEAG was asked to provide leadership and advice on scoping a training programme for the routine enquiry of family violence, sexual violence, child abuse and neglect (FVSV), for primary health care and community providers, to benefit our whānau. Part of the brief was to examine what elements from the Violence Intervention Programme (VIP), a training programme implemented across all district health boards (DHBs), could be used in the Primary Health Care Sector. This report outlines the work undertaken over eighteen months and includes a final set of recommendations for the Ministry to consider.

In writing this report MEAG have been conscious of the multiple audiences, from ministerial and Ministry of Health observers through to whānau and health providers, as contributors.

This audience-based focus is part of the promise of reciprocity to our Māori and Pasefika providers and other organisations who provided their insights, knowledge and experience – this report is to honour their voices.

From those commitments and the desire for an open readership, the content is created to be accessible to all readers. Context explanations in several sections may seem repetitive to some experienced ministry level analytical audiences, but this stance is deliberately taken by MEAG to provide for the whole audience.

The MEAG developed a three-part approach and framework for our work, that is based on the idea of understanding and interpreting the signs from our environment and responding appropriately. The report is laid out using theseheadings – but emphasises that processes are rarely linear and cycle from, responding to our environment, regularly switching from information gathering to analysis to imagining the future back to information gathering again. The intersectionality and the contextual impact of violence inform each hui we held, and the knowledge that was shared.

#MāoriExpertAdvisoryGroup #MEAG #HeKaupapaWaka #FamilyViolence #SexualViolence #ChildAbuse #MasseyUni #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MinistyOfHealth

CARE Director’s Opinion: The right-wing version of academic freedom and communicative inversions by Prof. Mohan Dutta

For the far-right, free speech is the discursive trope organised to silence speech. This communicative inversion, the turning of materiality on its head through discursive tropes, is a communicative tool deployed by the right to hold up and perpetuate a broader culture of hate that targets Indigenous, people of colour, gender diverse, women, and diversely abled academics.

When the Newsroom story, Academics divided on their own freedoms, made its way into my mailbox, I was looking forward to reading it. The story was behind a paywall, and I had to wait until noon to read it, when thankfully a colleague kindly forwarded the text of the story to me. The story reported from a survey commissioned by the Free Speech Union and carried out by Curia Market Research. Curia boasts many clients including Pfizer, Microsoft, and the National party. In its opening page, the company pitches itself as having run polling services for New Zealand Prime Ministers and opposition politicians.

The Free Speech Union was formed initially as the Free Speech Coalition in response to the cancelling of an event at an Auckland Council-owned venue to be held by the far-right white supremacists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux. Although it claims support from both sides of the political and ideological spectrum, the positions expressed by the Free Speech Union since its formation in 2018 seem to be concerned with the safeguarding of a particular form of free speech- the freedom to speech of those occupying positions of privilege. This form of speech is organised to target and silence the speech, health and safety of those at the margins of societies.

In multiple instances where the Free Speech Union has run an organised campaign, the campaign seems to be driven to safeguard the expressions of white, patriarchal, colonial structures.

The podcasts on the website of the Free Speech Union seem to be predominantly concerned with what it terms “American style culture war” and “woke culture”.

It seems the “chilling effect” the Union is concerned about is the speech of those in hegemonic positions of power. The Union’s narrative constructing the fear of being cancelled is driven to safeguard those identity positions in power that have historically and in contemporary contexts perpetuated the silencing of the raced, gendered, colonial margins.

In December 2021, the Union created an academic freedom fund in support of two academics who were being investigated by the Royal Society for a letter they wrote to the New Zealand Listener disputing the scientific legitimacy of Mātauranga Māori. When I received the survey from the Free Speech Union, I ignored it because of the seeming parochial ideological investments of the Union. Speaking with and witnessing the social media accounts of other ethnic minority, Indigenous, and gender diverse colleagues, I observed similar responses.

It was the same reason I had earlier ignored the invitation from the Union to an interview on the film The Kashmir Files. The Union platformed Roy Kaunds, a Hindutva ideologue who has been called out by Indian diaspora activists for his Islamophobic speech. Mr Kaunds previously appeared on the far-right hate infrastructure, Counterspin MediaThe Kashmir Files has been critiqued for its role as a propaganda device in spreading Islamophobia, and Hindutva ideologues have deployed the film to produce and circulate Islamophobic hate speech, reflected in calls to carry out genocide of Muslims and organised rape of Muslim women.

It seemed that I was on the radar of the Union as an academic with a different viewpoint (in the words of the person who called me), and yet I hadn’t registered a word of solidarity from the Union over the six or seven months my academic freedom was being threatened by the supporters of Hindutva, a far-right nationalist political ideology, here in Aotearoa. Mr Kaunds, the Union’s proponent of Free Speech in the context of The Kashmir Files was part of the communicative infrastructure targeting my academic freedom in the context of Hindutva.

The Newsroom article did not tell us much about the sample of the reported survey, the sampling strategy, and the demographic and ideological characteristics of the sample. Moreover, my concerns about source credibility related to the survey are validated by the survey items that were reported in the article. For instance, the article suggests 21 per cent of respondents score 0-2.5 on a 10-point scale in indicating the freedom to “question and test received wisdom.” Without further elucidation of what the item means by received wisdom, the reader is left to guess what the item is pointing toward. In other words, the perception of academic freedom reflected by the item seems to depend on what the operationalisation of “received wisdom” is.

The far right’s attack on justice-based scholarship is often legitimised through the language of freedom to test “received wisdom,” held up by the communicative construction of “woke culture” as a strategy to further marginalise voices at the margins. Indeed, the item may be interpreted to support the preconfigured agenda of the Union, that there is an “American culture war” problem in Aotearoa New Zealand. The items that follow, freedom to debate or discuss “gender and sex issues” and “treaty issues,” give away the ideological agenda of the Union. We learn that 50 per cent of the academics feel silenced about debating treaty issues (20 per cent scoring 0-2.5 and 20 per cent scoring 2.6-5.0 on a 10-point scale). We also learn that 47 per cent of the academics feel silenced debating about gender and sex issues (27 per cent scoring 0-2.5 and 20 per cent scoring 2.6-5.0 on a 10-point scale).

These items once again don’t really elucidate much. They remain vague about the aspects of these issues where academics seem to be experiencing chilling effects.

The focus on these two areas seems random, unless read from the ideological agenda of the far-right here in Aotearoa. For the far-right discursive infrastructures, “gender and sex issues” and “treaty issues” are key sites for perpetuating hate that is targeted at the margins. The freedom of speech here is deployed specifically to legitimise and circulate hate. The language of “cancel culture” is discursively deployed to erase and silence articulations from the raced, classed, gendered margins of the settler-colonial state, silencing the voices and academic freedom of those at the margins.

Who are the academics experiencing chilling effects in discussing “sex and gender” and “treaty issues?” Unless the academics responding to these items on the survey are experts in these areas, the concept of academic freedom in these areas doesn’t extend to them. A physicist’s academic freedom to make statements about “treaty issues” or “sex and gender” is as legitimate as my claim about academic freedom to make pronouncements about the muon G-2 experiment. We cannot tell from the news story whether the academics experiencing chilling effects in discussing these issues are area experts.

In the absence of details about the sample (including subject areas) and analysis of the findings disaggregated by area of scholarship, one might speculate given the context that the academics who responded to the survey are not experts in the areas of “sex and gender” and “treaty issues.” Lacking such detail, the survey could be read as a politically motivated campaign to deploy the tropes of “cancel culture” and “wokeism” to target the academic freedom of scholars at the intersectional “margins of the margins.”

In a political climate where the far-right has weaponised diverse forms of attacks on academic freedoms to uphold the hegemonic structures of whiteness, patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism, the Free Speech Union’s survey of academic freedom is an exemplar of communicative inversion, directed at perpetuating a chilling climate in the name of promoting academic freedom.

Professor Mohan Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.

Article Source: https://www.massey.ac.nz/about/news/opinion-the-right-wing-version-of-academic-freedom-and-communicative-inversions/

#RightWing #AcademicFreedom #CommunicativeInversions #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MasseyUni #CAREOpEd

CARE News: CARE research project article “Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers” published in The Conversation

Voiceless and vulnerable, NZ’s gig workers faced more risk with fewer protections during the pandemic

GettyImages

Leon Salter, Massey University and Mohan Jyoti Dutta, Massey University

Published: April 6, 2022 1.31pm NZST

Largely overlooked in the recent easing of COVID restrictions has been the unequal impact on marginalised groups such as gig workers.

While for much of the past two years there was a sense of collective risk mitigation by the “team of five million”, the government has since shifted that burden more towards individuals and personal responsibility.

But this avoids the fact that not all individuals have to negotiate the same amount of risk. And research shows gig work is one of the riskiest types of employment during a pandemic.

Furthermore, gig workers lack a public voice with which to communicate these risks to the general public and decision makers. But as our recent report – Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers – shows, these workers have been at a high risk of both contracting and transmitting the COVID-19 virus.

No way to speak out

We interviewed 25 rideshare and delivery drivers about their experiences during the pandemic. We found the structural features of their employment not only exposed them to increased risk from the virus, but also offered minimal protection should they be too ill to work.

While conventional businesses have established infrastructures for voicing dissatisfaction with COVID policy – through organisations such as Hospitality NZ, for example – gig workers lack equivalent communication channels.

This inequality also extends to gig workers’ access to culturally appropriate preventive health information. Not unlike the inequities faced by Māori and migrant communities, this leaves gig workers (many of whom are also migrants who don’t speak English as their first language) more vulnerable to the negative health effects of COVID-19.

Such risk is compounded by the structural features of gig work. Our report is grounded in the voices of workers themselves and argues that seven structural features influence their experiences: the work is piecemeal, precarious, individualised, gamified, dehumanised, automated and hyper-competitive.

Up against it: rideshare drivers in New York protested for fair pay in late March. GettyImages

Algorithm as manager

By its nature, the work is driven by immediate supply and demand – drivers are paid for each micro-transaction, rather than a wage, meaning time spent waiting for jobs goes unpaid:

Sometimes it’s really quiet. It’s not even worth … turning your car on for. Yeah, it’s basically just waiting until … you know there’s going to be demand.

This in turn means no job security. If demand decreases, so does income – exactly what happened to rideshare drivers in the pandemic, with some reporting their incomes had halved or worse.

Rideshare workers’ only communication with their “employer” (their status as contractors is being disputed globally) is through a phone app, meaning interactions take the form of a game, with both parties trying to extract the most money.

There is a built-in power asymmetry, however. For example, Uber withholds information about a passenger’s destination and the length of the proposed trip, which could help a driver gauge whether to accept a job.

With no human manager and effectively managed by an algorithm, many interviewees commented on the dehumanised nature of their interactions with Uber and their isolation from other drivers. Classified as independent contractors, they function as individual micro-businesses with no colleagues and no voice or influence in their organisation:

If you’re part of it, then you’re part of it. You know this is how things are going to be. So there’s no point questioning it because there is no human component to it, so there’s no one to question.

On the COVID front line

Because of their status as independent contractors, however, risk mitigation such as masks, sanitiser or plastic screens has been their own responsibility.

While Uber offered a $20 rebate for sanitiser in 2020, drivers reported a difficult application process, with many giving up. Drivers also felt they lacked preventive health education.

On top of increased precariousness and health risks, drivers also faced the consequences of COVID’s polarising effects. They reported picking up anti-mask, unvaccinated passengers, under pressure to accept the rides due to financial anxiety and the threat of poor ratings.

Especially at the beginning of the first COVID happening, a lot of customers didn’t really want to wear a mask … and I was wearing a mask obviously. But there’s some of them tried to reach for my mask and trying to make me take it off and being abusive and all this kind of thing.

If drivers become infected with COVID-19, they often lack the financial resources to cover their household expenses. Their need to keep working then puts the wider community at risk, too. The ‘Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers’ report was launched on March 24.

Risk but few rewards

There have been trade union efforts to organise rideshare and delivery drivers, including an ongoing Employment Court claim seeking employment rights. As contractors, however, drivers are legally barred from full union membership – again denying drivers the means to communicate their grievances.

All of these structural features mean rideshare and delivery workers have been isolated, voiceless and highly vulnerable during the pandemic. Without protections such as sick pay or annual leave, gig workers also cannot choose to work from home.

But, as some have argued, they are providing what can be regarded as an essential service, putting themselves at risk while delivering food and other goods to customers in isolation.

One of the many lessons of the pandemic is the urgent need for workers in the gig economy to have their voices heard. We all need to be more aware of the precarious and risky working conditions of the person who delivers our takeaways or takes us to a party. And we need to support worker-led collectivisation efforts.

Leon Salter, Postdoctoral Fellow, Massey University and Mohan Jyoti Dutta, Dean’s Chair Professor, Massey University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Read the original article.

#TradeUnions #Uber #Aotearoa #NewZealand #stories #PrecariousWork #GigWorkers #COVID19 #CARECCA #CAREMassey #MasseyUni

CARE Event: Where the Mind is Without Fear

Our celebration of Holi takes inspiration from the Basant Utsav festival at Santiniketan, a school founded by the poet Rabindranath Tagore in 1901 in rural West Bengal. The festival is an engrossing celebration of syncretism and pluralism, with music and dance performances, poetry and literature across different religions, cultures, and schools of thought.

Join us live on CARE’s Facebook page or YouTube channel for an evening of artist talks, poetry readings, and music performances in celebration of Holi this Thursday 31 March 2022, 7pm NZDT

Livestream links: 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/3133395053586792/

YouTube:

Contributors include Mohan Dutta, Nirvana Haldar, Balamohan Shingade, Taarati Taiaroa, James Tapsell-Kururangi, Prateek Vadgaonkar, among others.

#WhereTheMindIsWithoutFear #Santiniketan #RabindranathTagore #poetry #literature #Holi #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MasseyUni

CARE White Paper Launch- Issue #14: A Culture-Centered Approach to Community-led Social Cohesion in Aotearoa

Join us on Thursday, 17 March 2022 at 7PM (NZDT) for the release of the CARE White Paper: “A Culture-Centered Approach to Community-led Social Cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand”

The launch will be presented by Professor Mohan J Dutta, Dean’s Chair of Communication & Director of CARE.

The White Paper is co-authored with Pooja Jayan, Md Mahbub Rahman, Christine Elers, and Francine Whittfield, CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

Facebook Event Link : https://www.facebook.com/events/2196384167179941/

Facebook Premiere Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/311510504299109