June 23 2022 GM

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Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

Date: Thursday, June 23rd

Time: 9am EDT / 1pm UTC

Who: Pía Garavaglia

Moderator: Úrsula

Where: On IFF Mattermost Square Channel.

Fairwork Argentina and their findings about the platform work

Have you ordered food by UberEats or taken a commute on Cabify? Do you know how it is to be a driver or rider? Fairwork argentina is an action-research project that evaluates working conditions in the gig economy. This year they are launching several study groups in different regions and recently, they launched their first report in Argentina. In this Glitter Meetup we are going to review their findings.

Pía Garavaglia is the leader of the Fairwork Initiative in Argentina, PhD Candidate for Universidad de Buenos Aires and Université Sorbonne Nouvelle and researcher in public policies and digital economy.


Our featured guest today is Pía Garavaglia @piagara, the leader of the Fairwork Initiative in Argentina, which is an action-research project that evaluates working conditions in the gig economy, like Uber and Cabify. This year they are launching several study groups in different regions and recently, they launched their first report in Argentina. In this Glitter Meetup we are going to review their findings.

How did Fairwork start in Argentina?

  • It started at the beginnings of 2021. I was conducting research on platforms for another project and began to discuss sinergia with the Oxford team

How was the research work for your current report? What difficulties did you and your team face as online platform researchers?

  • Since we have to provide robust information to make academic research, we triangled three sources:
    • Desk research
    • Interviews with workers
    • Interviews with platforms and the evidence they provide
  • The main difficulties were associated with getting response from platforms, not all of them were eager to reply and share the evidence needed for the evaluation

Are the platforms not used to share their information?

  • Since they are not regulated and take part in a new and competitive market, they tend to be quite difficult with that topic

Do you think this is common everywhere or more in some countries?

  • I think it's a new phenomenon, so it will take some time before change takes places. However, in some countries where they have been developing this study for more than 2 years many platforms have started to make improvements. Some started to recognize trade unions, establish minimum fees, make changes in their data management policies…
  • In Argentina it's still far from that, but we've found some initiatives that contribute towards better conditions

Could you highlight the main features about the report? What was your objective and what categories did you use for ranking Uber, Cabify, and etc?

  • The report at first aims to describe the context in Argentina. Mainly the legal framework and the impacts from COVID. At the moment workers are autonomous, and the pandemic has contributed to expose their vulnerabilities.
  • This report then tried to reflect the vulnerabilities and the conditions that are unfair for workers.
  • The categories for the evaluation were: Pay, conditions, contracts, management and representation
  • Each of them has two requirements which if achieved are two points. So platforms can be ranked from 0 to 10 points
  • Some vulnerabilities are: insecurity for drivers when they have to access insecure areas or passengers attempting to abuse them, high exposure to COVID. And many platforms were not able to demonstrate that they had mechanisms to reduce that risks related to their work

And how did they make it in these categories? How did they performed in general and in some of them?

  • 5 out of 6 platforms had 0 points
  • Only one of them had four
  • As you can see, rankings are very low. This shows that most platforms were not able to prove they have fair working conditions for their workers
Glitter Meetup June 23 Image 1.png
  • They fail to prove issues such as: achieving minimum hourly wage, respecting the argentinian laws, providing a human communication channel available for all workers, protecting or mitigating the main risks associated with their tasks, establishing a data management policy, etc
  • It's a very difficult situation for riders and drivers
  • However, one platform showed willingness to make changes and was able to prove some points, Didi.
  • They proved:
    • Providing an insurance that covers the whole login time
    • Terms and conditions that respect the argentinian law and leave a notice period to notify changes
    • Call center available 24/7, even if the driver was penalized or suspended
    • Gender policy (are expecting to launch this year and interface in the app for female drivers and passengers, they have done it in Mexico)
  • It's still a long way towards fairness, but this report is annual, so we expect to have further dialogues with platforms and begin to see changes. Hopefully the next report will show higher points!

The interface for females. How does this work in Mexico?

  • It's an app inside Didi that is only available for women
  • So if drivers of passengers feel insecure about transporting late at night for example, they can ask for a female driver or /passenger

In your research you talked to drivers, right? or workers in general? what did you find in their testimonies?

  • Yes, drivers and riders from platforms
  • The driver platforms reviewed were Uber, Cabify Beat and Didi
  • And delivery platforms for riders were Rappi and PedidosYa
  • One of the most curious issue was related to insecurity. Sometimes drivers rejected journeys because it was an unsafe area but the platform kept offering that option. Then after a certain amount of rejections the platform suspended or penalized them
  • Also, these suspensions are a problem because they are independent but they don't get to choose the journey. Also, If they can't communicate with the platform to find out why they got suspended, they run out of income
  • Sometimes platforms provide panic buttons for example, but that could be insufficient. For example, if they have a panic button but not a communication channel, sometimes they can press it and not get response
  • And drivers are exposed to risks, so they need the platform to respond and provide protection
  • A participant adds that driver protection is very important. The ripple effects are actually worrying because when one person is at risk it trickles down to using stolen cars to target women passengers and so on. The customer support teams and policies rarely address these issues. Eg. what happens to a driver who is violent or is showing such tendencies? Do they get suspended or how is it addressed?
  • Sometimes they ban drivers or passengers and sometimes they do nothing. And that is their decision, there is no entity to audit those conflicts
  • In Argentina only Didi provides some protection? What about the other platforms? They didn't explain their system to you?
  • Other platforms provide some tools, but were not enough to achieve the point

On one hand I see that it posses a risk on passengers, yet on the other hand it is a way for undocumented migrants to work and earn a living. How do we navigate this issue?

  • This is a very big issue. Renting or selling accounts may be an easier option for migrants, however I'm the long run they do not become a good option. We have interviewed some cases like that and their problems become bigger than with the normal accounts. This is because they end up earning less and cannot cover all costs (including the account rental), and they have less coverage with conflicts, because they can't prove their identity. So if they have a problem with pay or insecurity, they can't make the claim
  • Report regarding this in South Africa
  • Article related to Nigerian drivers selling their accounts

Do you want to connect with Pia?

  • Fairwork profile
  • Twitter @heartinacage3
  • IG: @piagara
  • Fairwork account: @towardsfairwork