The Fairwork 2021 Cloudwork League Table also showed that four out of the 17 platforms had a zero score. Picture: Mikael Blomkvist, Pexels.
The Fairwork 2021 Cloudwork League Table also showed that four out of the 17 platforms had a zero score. Picture: Mikael Blomkvist, Pexels.

Working on digital platforms ‘not fair’

By Dhivana Rajgopaul Time of article published Jun 20, 2021

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DIGITAL platforms Jovoto and TranscribeMe scored the highest number of points – seven out of 10 – on the Fairwork 2021 Cloudwork League Table.

The Fairwork 2021 Cloudwork League Table also showed that four out of the 17 platforms had a zero score.

The information is contained in the Fairwork Cloud work Ratings 2021 report which was released on Wednesday.

Fairwork is an organisation that highlights the best and worst labour practices in the platform economy.

It describes cloud work as digital labour platforms mediating the supply and demand of labour-power via an online interface.

The report drew on surveys with 792 workers in 75 countries, desk research, and conversations with desk managers. The research aims to rate fairness towards workers in online work.

The report stated that there were five principles to rate individual platforms on their fairness towards workers.

The five principles were: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation. It rated 17 digital platforms on a score out of 10 on fairness towards workers.

Fairwork said that out of the 17 platforms rated, only five showed evidence of meeting the fair pay principle where the platforms workers were paid on time.

Two platforms paid workers above the national minimum wage.

“Under the fair conditions principle, 12 platforms had taken steps to reduce task-specific risks to workers and had policies governing data security and privacy. Of the 12 platforms, only three guarded against the risks of both overwork and underwork.”

In the fair contracts principle, five out of the 17 digital platforms demonstrated that they had terms and conditions under which workers did not forgo their rights to reasonable legal recourse against the digital platforms.

“Nine out of the 17 platforms had evidence to meet the fair management principle. The nine platforms had meaningful due processes where workers could understand and appeal disciplinary decisions.”

In fair representation, workers from only three platforms had access to representation, and that freedom of association was not inhibited.

During the research, Fairwork interviewed cloud worker Jessie from South Africa, a transcriber with TranscribeMe. Jessie said her duties for TranscribeMe included transcribing audio and time-stamping.

Jessie said the platform gave her a lot of income but supporting herself off the digital platform was difficult. To cash out with TranscribeMe, Jessie needed $20 (about R280) , but it took her 50 to 60 hours of work to earn that.

Fairwork said that after it had completed its study, six platforms made changes to their policies.

“Some of the changes included adding an anti-discrimination policy to their terms of service, introducing wording in their terms of conditions that will allow workers to appeal disciplinary actions that are perceived to be unfair.”

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