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ECONOMY | 19-06-2021 09:34

Digital jobs precarious and unstable, Cepal and ILO warn in report

In Argentina between four and five out of every six delivery platform workers are immigrants, says new study.

The Covid-19 crisis has carried a heavy impact on employment in Latin America, especially of the informal variety, triggering increased but often precarious jobs on digital platforms, a joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL in its Spanish acronym) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) warned this week.

Job markets in the region will take their time recovering from the heavy impact of the pandemic with the deeper destruction hitting informal employment, the Labour cycles in Latin America and the Caribbean report released by CEPAL and the ILO indicated.

Last year saw an economic shrinkage of 7.1 percent in Latin America with unemployment in the region rising to 10.5 percent.

The suspension of on-the-job work and restrictions in circulation produced by the pandemic have led to the proliferation of home office, alongside jobs connected to digital platforms such as Amazon sales and Mobike or WeWork, involving motorcycles and bicycles, as well as the interchange of goods (such as Mercado Libre), transporting persons and the delivery of various products, also extending to communications and social networks.

"The conditions of these jobs are heterogeneous yet generally they present certain features which do not heed the criteria for a decent job, characterised by labour relations which differ from both wage labour and self-employment, in most cases not being covered by labour legislation," warns the report, adding: "While these forms represent new job opportunities, they tend to contribute to a more precarious labour market."

During the pandemic, this kind of work increased due to the need to reduce personal contact while maintaining the distribution of essential goods in times of quarantine.

"The evidence suggests that this kind of work is highly precarious and unstable, characterised by long hours, an absence of social protection and the lack of options for dialogue and representation," states the report.

Owing to household survey, the key sources of information for analysis of the labour market, not being designed for identifying this kind of jobs, no estimate of the relevance which they have acquired on Latin American job markets is supplied.

In countries like Argentina, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, it is considered that up to one percent of the employed now work for digital platforms.

In Argentina between four and five out of every six delivery platform workers are immigrants, said the study. Similarly, in Chile around 70 percent of delivery workers are foreign.

The report stresses the need to design suitable regulatory frameworks to establish and protect the labour rights of these workers, such as clear and transparent contracts while protecting their personal and employment data so that they may exercise their right to collective bargaining and avoid discrimination with the appropriate social security assistance also conceded.

– TIMES/AFP

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