Regional News

Uber and Airbnb instrumental in widening the labor inequality gap in Latin America

By Silvia Castro Betancourt 0 Comments NEWS, Regional News
Online work platforms such as Uber and Airbnb are sources of labor inequality because they do not offer benefits such as social security.
Innovation has disguised well the precariousness of work.
Women, young people, migrants, have been welcomed by the so-called collaborative economies, the wave of online work platforms that serve as intermediaries between users and service providers emerged in the last decade: Uber, Airbnb, Aliada, among many others.
Flexible schedules and the minimum requirement of qualifications attract those with less favorable attributes for labor inclusion, for whom governments usually have few options.
This is the case of Edwin and José, Central Americans who fled to Mexico from Honduras and El Salvador because of threats from gangs and organized crime, currently earn their living as Uber drivers, two cases documented by the Political Animal portal.
However, the new form of employment is also an additional source of inequality for those excluded from employment who take them as an option because they do not offer social security and disable forms of collective bargaining.
Thus, they aggravate the labor situation in Latin America because they add to the informal categories and structurally precarious conditions that proliferated between 2016 and 2017 due to the contraction of economies in the region, explains Marta Novick, consultant for the Social Development division of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Uber still needs to offer a form of social security to those who work with its application
Online intermediary platforms have grown significantly although they still do not represent a substantial percentage of the total offer. In the United States, 0.5% of workers provided services through them in 2015; while 1% received income at least one month by this means between October 2012 and September 2015, the author points out.
Uber, Airbnb, Aliada, among others, make it necessary to redesign the security and social protection system "to the extent that it is a new economy, or at least of very novel situations, the set of systems and regulations designed for previous models of production and work will no longer be effective ", says Novick, author of the analysis" The world of work, changes and challenges in terms of inclusion ".
The platforms of online intermediaries disable the instruments or institutions that promote greater labor equity such as collective bargaining that provides power of association, the minimum wage or labor inspection, resulting in the predominance of individual agreements and pacts over collective agreements.
These new forms of the workforce to redesign the system of security and social protection.
However, in response, initiatives have been generated so that workers have access to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
In Seattle, for example, transportation service workers in the status of independent contractors are organized through a driver's association that operates with a technology application. Uber's ex-conductors created an application called Swift that works like a profit-sharing cooperative.
"The outcome of several of these union initiatives remains uncertain, as it leads to questioning whether workers in transitional occupations are categorized as hired workers or as independent contractors and, therefore, if as independent contractors they have legal restrictions to access the right. to form unions, "says Novick.
Meanwhile, with or without benefits and trade union rights, collaborative economies will continue as a work option for those who otherwise would be unemployed.

The above article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English. Click here to read the original article.


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