Over the last decade, the platform-based gig economy has risen drastically in popularity offering more flexibility and freedom to workers and producing more efficient and flexible services for consumers in Bangladesh. It started to expand in 2016 with the arrival of the ride-sharing platform ‘Uber’. Since then, many digital labour platforms have emerged in the market in some major industries including ride-sharing, transportation, food and grocery delivery, and domestic work. However, workers on these platforms experience low wages, poor conditions, and a lack of job security. In this year’s Fairwork Bangladesh report, we evaluated conditions at nine prominent platforms: Chaldal, foodpanda, HelloTask, HungryNaki, Obhai, Pathao, Sheba.xyz, Truck Lagbe, and Uber.
This second Fairwork report for Bangladesh shows that many of the concerns around pay, working conditions, work contracts, management, and worker representation persist. Overall, however, platforms have generally performed slightly better than last year. We also have novel findings. In the rideshare sector, for example, we uncovered a new phenomenon of Khaep or “workers going solo” – where workers connect to customers directly instead of going through a platform, thereby rejecting the gig model. Many gig workers in Bangladesh feel that they have been pushed to a point where they have to challenge the gig model as it currently stands.
We hope that this report will help set the agenda of fairer working conditions for the gig workers of Bangladesh and that it will inspire platforms to improve their positions in the next round of scoring taking place in 2023.