Where is the gig economy taking us?

There are two opposing schools of thought on the gig economy, where almost a million self-employed Australians work on a freelance or project basis rather than in permanent jobs.

First, that the gig economy is a boon for contractors and companies because it boosts labour market flexibility. Second, that it is a form of mass exploitation of younger workers, particularly those born overseas, and a race to the bottom in wages and conditions.

I have always been in the first camp. Having run a business for many years, I’ve seen the benefits of the gig economy for owners and clients first-hand. Flexibility, freedom, better pay and greater control are just some benefits of working on a project rather than on a permanent basis.

But I’m moving to the second view as more stories of exploitation emerge and an Americanisation of our workforce (minuscule wages, no conditions for some workers) occurs. Then there’s the insecurity. Much has been written about food couriers, for example, who are technically employed as contractors and paid a pittance and have terrible conditions. Read more

Tony Featherstone - Brisbane Times - 6 September 2018

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