Ensure digital workers operate under relevant labour laws – Gov’t urged

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP), Minister for Communications and Digitalisation
Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP), Minister for Communications and Digitalisation

Government has been urged to step in to enable platform workers to receive the needed recognition under the relevant labour laws and be accorded employment and labour rights.

Dr. Joseph Budu, Fairwork Ghana lead researcher, who made the call, said digital workers were now not considered as employees by the platforms they work for, denying them social protections and the ability to collectively bargain and contribute to the decisions affecting them.

Dr Joseph Budu, presenting the findings of the 2022 Ghana Fairwork Report,supported by Invest for Jobs, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, said only two out of 10 platforms studied, The Black Ride and Glovo, were subject to the laws of the country.

“We at Fairwork believe strongly that the plight of workers will improve if government recognises them as employees, because platform workers will benefit from social protections, safety nets, the ability to collectively bargain and contribute to the decisions affecting their everyday labour,” he said.

The report, Fairwork Ghana Ratings 2022: Towards better policies in the platform economy, ranks platforms against five principles of fair work, giving each company a score out of ten.

The report finds that many of the platforms could not find evidence they meet the basic standards of fairness when benchmarked against the Fairwork principles.

The other platforms included Uber, Bolt, Yango, Swift-Wheels, inDriver, Feenix, Bolt Food, and Jumia Food.

Data for the report was collected between May and October, this year, from digital platform workers and managers in Accra, Kumasi, and Takoradi to assess the working conditions of the 10 digital labour platforms as against five global principles of Fairwork, including fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation.

Dr Budu noted that Black Ride and Glovo topped the list of platforms studied with five points out of 10 while the remaining scored zero.

The report noted that platform economy continues to create job opportunities for many, particularly for young people in developing countries.

However, the new report in Ghana found that workers (predominantly ride-hailing drivers and delivery workers) had been at the mercy of a rise in inflation levels which is affecting their means of livelihood as and exacerbating poor working conditions.

Many who have joined digital labour platforms struggle to make ends meet as they struggle with everyday expenses and work longer hours to maintain a decent standard of life.

Many of them have to switch between two or three platforms to work extra hours to be able to pay for their everyday expenses, as well as to put food on the table for their families and provide a roof over their heads.

Prof Richard Boateng, the Project Lead for Fairwork Ghana said: “Ghana, among other countries is witnessing rising cost inflation which is greatly affecting platform workers in terms of their operational cost, amidst existing issues such as lack of safety and security. Yet, platforms are not doing enough to ensure decent working conditions for their workers.”

“This year for instance we identified that the high inflation in Ghana is having adverse effects on workers’ earnings and operational cost. They now have to pay more for fuel, maintenance, and call credit and mobile data among other things.”

He said while some platforms had made some changes since our last report launch, there is still a whole lot more to be done. We think that, at this point the government needs to step in so that platform workers can receive the needed recognition under the relevant labour laws which will also enable platforms to comply to these laws and accord platform workers employment and labour rights.”

The Member of Parliament for Abetifi Constituency in the Eastern Region, Bryan Acheampong, who launched the report, urged the platforms not to drop their quality services at the time their clienteles were increasing.

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