Mark Graham, expert in Internet geography: “Digital platforms like Uber are becoming the ‘operating system’ of cities”

The irruption of the Internet in the early 2000s revolutionized communication, interpersonal relationships and even work. In just a few years, people on motorcycles, bicycles and cars have appeared on the streets of big cities to provide transportation and delivery. Uber, Cabify, Rappi, DiDi, Cornershop, among others, are some examples that demonstrate the trend of the gig economy or platform economy, i.e. jobs that are offered through applications and which have a hybrid nature, because they share job characteristics subordinate and autonomous.

The National Institute of Statistics (INE) announced that, between 2020 and June 2022, nearly 2.3% of those employed in Chile did some type of platform job. These types of services are being questioned in different countries of the world, because they operate according to different logics compared to regular jobs.

Mark Graham, professor of internet geography at the Oxford Internet Institute, leads a range of research projects on topics such as digital work, the platform economy, internet geography and information and communication technologies (ICTs) and development. This Tuesday, the expert will present the speech “The future of work (and how to stop it)”, during the second day of the Future Congress.

“Jobs are increasingly mediated by job platforms. This is due in part to technological advances, consumer demand for convenience, and in part to a lack of regulation that has allowed platforms to avoid classifying workers as employees and therefore to bear the consequences. With more workers in the gig economy, we have more workers who do not have the same standards of protection as employees: things like guaranteeing minimum wages and access to a paid postnatal,” the researcher tells a The meter.

“My speech entitled ‘The future of work (and how to stop it)’, is a speech about how digital platforms like Uber are becoming the ‘operating system’ of cities, and about the harms and risks they bring to the future of workers”, adds.

Graham says the gig economy is a “manifestation of contemporary, digital capitalism.”

“In the gig economy, bosses have found a way to extract value from labor and workers by minimizing their obligations and guaranteeing only certain rights and wages. In a standard employer-employee relationship, the risk of doing business does not fall only on workers: companies need to invest in infrastructure and give workers contracts with guaranteed profits. In a typical gig economy company, most of that risk falls on the workers,” says the expert.

“If there is a lull in business, it is the workers who pay the price. This is a step towards a form of capitalism that should concern most of us: in protections and rights, they come back for millions of workers,” points out.


Graham is the director of the Fairwork Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, where they evaluate working conditions on digital platforms in 39 countries, including Chile, and rank them on how fair they are. This, with the aim of demonstrating that better and fairer jobs can be achieved in the platform economy.

According to the Fairwork report carried out between August 2021 and August 2022 in our country, “this year’s evaluations show that platforms in Chile are still far from guaranteeing basic working conditions for workers”.

Among the evaluation criteria are: remuneration, conditions, contracts, management and proper representation. Although they point out that since September 1, 2022, Law 21.431 has entered into force, which regulates the work of platforms in Chile, an advance to establish a series of minimum standards, such as working hours, pay, access to social security , among others. other parameters.

“If you look at the Fairwork scores in Chile, for example, you can see that no company comes close to demonstrating that they are able to offer decent working conditions to workers. This needs to change. These low scores in Chile show that the market, abandoned a “Per se, according to the current regulation, it is not accelerating. The current regulation is not doing the job. So regulation is needed to ensure that all workers can benefit from fair minimum labor standards,” she explains.

In this sense, he recalls that “governments must ensure that they are aware of the risks for workers inherent in the collaborative economy model”.

“There are two ways to do this. Firstly, to ensure that the misclassification of workers as self-employed is stopped. Workers should benefit from the protections of the employment contract. Secondly, in cases where employed workers are truly autonomous, more can be done to legislate minimum working conditions that are fair for them”, he concludes.

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