Ghanaians working in gig economy are paid low – Report

A new study on the gig economy in Ghana shows that even though some of the platforms offer jobs to thousands of Ghanaians, the workers are paid low wages and they encounter dangerous conditions.

The Fairwork report by the University of Oxford and the University of Ghana Business School, found that even though food delivery and ride-hailing platforms offer income opportunities to thousands of Ghanaians, many of these workers face low pay and dangerous conditions.

The study looked at 10 major gig economy platforms in Ghana and rated them according to how fairly they treat their workers.

The report titled: “Fairwork Ghana Ratings 2021: Labour Standards in the Platform Economy” ranked each platform operating in Ghana (Uber Bolt, Bolt Food, Yango, Black Ride, Swift Wheel, IFerch, Eziban, Jumia Food and Glovo) against Five Fairwork Principles, giving each company a score out of ten. The study finds that the majority of platforms analysed are yet to meet the basic standards of fairness when benchmarked against the Fairwork principles.

According to the report however, Black Ride topped the ranking with a score of 7 out of 10. The study also found that most companies, including household names like Bolt, Jumia Food, and Uber, are yet to meet minimum standards of fair work – such as offering a living wage or minimum protection against accidents.

This first study of its kind in Ghana, comparing labour standards in digital labour platforms across pay, conditions, contracts, management, and representation estimates that digital labour platforms have created work opportunities for an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Ghanaians, providing much-needed income and livelihoods to many.

“However, these workers face multiple challenges, from poor wages to violence at work. Platforms in Ghana like many places classify workers as independent contractors or self-employed, meaning they have little recourse to formal employment rights. Under these classifications, they are not entitled to fundamental labour rights, including the right to work under satisfactory, safe, and healthy conditions and form or join a trade union to bargain for better conditions are denied by these platforms,” it said.

Commenting, Prof. Richard Boateng, Project Lead and a Professor of Information Systems at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) said: “For the first time, we have looked at companies offering e-hailing and food delivery services to rate them on how they treat their workers. This provides a helpful guide for both regulators and customers who use these platforms.

In this report, we found Black Ride is the highest scoring platform, while popular platforms like Bolt, Uber or Jumia Foods scored only 1 point out of 10. After Fairwork’s engagement with some of the platform managers, several platforms including Black Ride have made changes to their policies to improve working conditions such as setting up an anti-discrimination policy and announcing their willingness to negotiate with unions or workers associations. However, the fact that most platforms are yet to meet basic standards shows the need for further intervention in the sector”.

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