New poll shows UK public support decisive action to make the gig economy fairer

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A new poll has found that the majority of the UK's population support a raft of policy measures designed to make the gig economy fairer, from changing employment law to strengthening trade union rights.

New poll shows UK public support decisive action to make the gig economy fairer
Photo by Carl Campbell on Unsplash

The survey, conducted by Survation on behalf of the Fairwork research project at the University of Oxford, polled 2,020 adults between the 21st and 22nd of October.

It found that the majority of the public believe that gig economy platforms prioritise making profits over having a beneficial impact on society. Just 22% think that gig economy platforms pay workers a fair wage.

These results match findings from Fairwork’s research in the UK, which found household names such as Uber, Deliveroo and Amazon Flex failed to evidence that they meet basic labour standards such as providing a living wage for all working time or offering channels for collective representation.

The findings also show that:

  • Nearly two-thirds of UK population (64%) support changes to employment law aimed at reducing the number of workers inaccurately defined as self-employed in the gig economy.
  • Over half of those surveyed (57%) think gig economy platforms should be required to negotiate with the trade unions that represent their workers.
  • Six out of ten people (60%) believe that gig economy platforms should be required to have worker representatives on their boards.
  • Two-thirds of UK population (66%) agree that gig economy platforms should be required to tell their workers about significant changes in the technology used to manage their jobs.

There is also strong support for even more transformative policy, with a majority of under 45s agreeing that gig economy platforms should be taken into public ownership if they repeatedly fail to offer their workers fair pay and conditions.

The poll also shows strong support for objective monitoring of gig economy platforms, with a majority saying they would be more likely to be a customer of a gig economy platform which was judged to be treating its workers fairly.

“The development of technology has allowed for services like transport and delivery to be organised in new ways, but these developments risk being monopolised for the benefits of platforms and their investors, rather than being passed onto workers” – said Mark Graham, professor of Internet Geography at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and Director of Fairwork.

Alex Marshall, President of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), added that the poll reiterates that the tide is turning in the gig economy.

„Not only are we seeing more and more exploitative employers lose in court and be ordered to give workers the rights they have been illegally denied, but now we are seeing public opinion hugely change too. These key workers have proved their value with the huge shift they put in to get us all through the pandemic and the public are getting behind them in demanding better treatment,” Marshall explained.

Photo by Carl Campbell on Unsplash

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