Gig economy workers say they can no longer survive

PARIS: Whether in Paris, Kuala Lumpur or California, gig economy workers fear they can no longer survive on meagre earnings from jobs that leave them increasingly vulnerable.
The term “gig” stretches back a century to jazz musicians who used it to refer to a one-off show but now the “gig economy” involves millions of people in all sorts of jobs, from Uber drivers to Deliveroo delivery teams.
Wissem Inal does more than 700 kilometres a week on his scooter, delivering up to 10 takeout meals in the Paris suburbs every evening.
“At the moment, with the lockdown I end up with 500 euros ($600) a month net,” said the 32-year-old who has driven for Deliveroo since 2017 but also takes jobs for Uber Eats and Stuart.
Inal has trouble seeing the “good side” of his job at the moment and criticises calculations by Deliveroo’s algorithm that decide how much to offer him for jobs.
“A delivery that’s worth six euros at noon is worth just three euros in the evening. You can’t earn a living with this job, unless you’re willing to live like a slave.”
He recently joined an association of gig delivery drivers that seeks to improve working conditions.
“We should be able to defend ourselves,” he maintains.
When Erica Mighetto began driving with Lyft three years ago, “I just loved it”, she said.
Her grown son had left the house and she thought it would be a great move until she found a job in bookkeeping or property management.
“I really enjoyed, you know, choosing my own hours,” she said. “I thought life was good.”
Mighetto lived in Sacramento but would drive more than an hour to the San Francisco area on weekends because there was more work in the richer towns.
She slept in her car or shelled out $25 for a room.
Mighetto was pulling in $60-$80 an hour before expenses in 2017 but a series of rate cuts caused that to fall to $20 at the beginning of the year and to less than $10 in March. She finds the algorithms opaque and pernicious. — AFP