Globally, there are now tens of millions of digital platform workers, doing work that is outsourced via platforms or apps. This new form of work provides essential income and opportunities to many. However, lacking protection from employment law or collective bodies, many platform workers face low pay, precarity, and poor and dangerous working conditions.
Fairwork is a multi-partner global project that draws on the expertise and experience of researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester (UK) as well as the university research centres and institutes in the project countries. It is already working in South Africa, India, Germany, Chile, Ecuador, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Philippines and Brazil.
The Foundation is committed to highlighting best and worst practices in the platform economy. Identification of best and worst practices is done through Fairwork’s Gig Work Principles, that are generally grounded in ILO Conventions. Using those principles, every platform is given a ‘fairness’ score.
In essence, it is a way of imagining a different, much fairer, platform economy than the one we have today. By evaluating platforms against measures of fairness, Fairwork hopes to not just show what the platform economy is, but also what it can be.
Fairwork also aims to ensure that those platforms providing good pay and conditions for their workers receive public acknowledgement; helping to protect against a “race to the bottom” that seeks to compete via lowering of wages and worsening of work conditions”. They hope, to the extent possible, to work with platforms in helping them improve their scores and at the same time improve conditions for those who work for them.
Centre for Labour Research
The Centre for Labour Research, a non-profit organization registered with SECP, promotes awareness on fundamental labour rights, as guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. The Centre engages in research on contemporary labour issues and generates innovative ideas to deal with the labour rights malaise. The Fairwork Pakistan project is being implemented in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi by the team at the Centre for Labour Research, led by Principal Investigator (Iftikhar Ahmad) and two co-investigators (Sidra Nizamuddin and Athar Jameel). The research team includes Shanza Sohail.
It has been launched to evaluate the working conditions of gig workers in the country. The project will rate local digital labour platforms against the five Fairwork principles of decent work, with the goal of helping improve the working conditions of platform workers.
The Fairwork Process
Each Fairwork Principle is divided into two thresholds. Accordingly, for each Principle, the scoring system allows one ‘basic point’ to be awarded corresponding to the first threshold, and an additional ‘advanced point’ to be awarded corresponding to the second threshold (see table below).
In order to be awarded the 2 points allocated to a standard, the platform has to meet the two criteria defined within that particular standard. Each criterion carries 1 point. The advanced point under each Principle can only be awarded if the basic point for that Principle has been awarded.
The thresholds specify the evidence required for a platform to receive a given point. Where no verifiable evidence is available that meets a given threshold, the platform is not awarded that point. A platform can therefore receive a maximum Fairwork Score of ten points. Fairwork Pakistan scores will be updated on a yearly basis.
Under the Fairwork Pakistan project, we gather evidence through three methods: desk research, platform interviews, and worker interviews. Later, based on the data collected, we shall publish a rating of the platform scoring it out of ten against five decent work standards: Fair pay, Fair conditions, Fair contracts, Fair management and Fair representation.
The scores are decided through a rigorous peer review process that includes the core team of researchers involved in planning and executing the research (Fairwork Pakistan team), the central Fairwork team based in Oxford, and two reviewers from other Fairwork country teams.
Ratings shall be published in the form of league tables as well as separate platform tables, explaining the scores. We shall then disseminate those ratings in the consultative sessions with the relevant stakeholders and as widely as possible.
We hope that platforms, workers, consumers, and regulators use the Fairwork framework and ratings to imagine, and realise, a fairer Pakistani gig economy.