UWC Teams Up To Probe The Gig Economy

The gig economy – For workers on the margins, is it any different from standing on the street corner hoping to get a work gig (a few hours work)? Or is it just a cynical ploy to make cheap labor sound cool?

In partnership with Oxfam, South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU), United Domestic Workers Organisation South Africa (UDWOSA) Digital Girl Africa (DGA), University of the Western Cape Law Faculty represented by Social Law Project (SLP) and supported by Western Cape CoLab, probe this playing field and further explore domestic and care work in the changing world of work and society. Note is also taken of the significant impact of Covid-19 on the lives of workers, further exacerbating existing challenges of poverty and inequality at a staggering pace and scale. Although the gig economy is not something new, as temporary and/or freelance work has always existed, there has been a shift in how technology (particularly through digital platforms) created and allowed for more widespread, flexible and on-demand (almost immediate) work opportunities that both businesses and individuals can benefit from using smartphones. 

The partners hosted simultaneous workshops in Cape Town and Johannesburg.  The workshops are part of a programme which seeks to empower domestic workers with digital skills as well as mobilizing resources and strengthening links between domestic and care work organizations, trade unions and support organizations. The workshops centered around digital literacy and sharing of information. A podcast series was produced by hosting experts to share insights on the  domestic and care work sector, valuable for education and driving awareness.

Recognizing too, that now more than ever, the challenges faced by domestic and care workers need to be addressed – but how can this be collectively achieved? How do we view domestic and care work in the post-Covid digital world of work? How do we support the right to fair labor practices and dignity  for domestic and care workers as part of sustainable sector building? How do we embrace domestic and care work in the gig economy? These are some of the questions tackled in our podcast series and workshops. We go live on the 8th of March 2022 in honor of International women’s day – stay on the lookout for more.