Sunday, June 4, 2023

The “gig economy” is destroying our health

Before the season of 2008, no one had heard of the economy box. But this year the world as we know it has collapsed, the labor market has reset and the gig economy or economy has provided demand. Technological innovation has allowed the platform to offer services that are performed by professionals available at the time. After finishing the job, the professional could choose another one or wait. And names like Uber or Deliveroo began to appear.

The advantages were more than obvious: greater flexibility without a work relationship with the company, to decide when to work and when not, which made it possible to turn this type of work into an extra or to promote family reconciliation. But the truth made the other side of the coin visible: professionals work for algorithms that punish them if they reject jobs and the pressure increases to get paid or complete tasks as soon as possible next time. Competition with other professionals for the same service is palpable and a new variable is added to this equation: customer satisfaction, which also depends on having more or less income.

Thus softness gave way to the precarious so-called: there is no middle ground between work and rest. Hyperconnectivity is total, depending on the app that will establish today’s work and therefore tomorrow’s income which, in many cases, does not reach the minimum wage. The consequences of these working conditions are no longer only physical, but also psychosocial. Predominant? The stress that is inherent in this kind of work.

Hyperconnectivity is a total, lite app that will set up work today and income tomorrow

Part of this stress as a platform for workers comes from “constant monitoring of work, with surveillance and geolocation devices that allow us to know their exact situation and the reasons for the evaluation of reputation or work”, explains professor Marta Fernández Prieto, professor of Labor Law and Social Obses at the University of Vigo. He does this in his article on the psychosocial risks of work through digital platforms, where he also mentions that working in the so-called gig economy is subject to a constant collection of performance data on which future assignments depend.

The chronic stress to which these workers are subjected can lead to pathologies such as burnout syndrome or burnt-out workers, which results in fatigue, exhaustion, headaches, sleep problems, ulcers and gastrointestinal diseases, and hypertension, among others. It also causes anxiety, impatience, and irritability or depressive feelings.

This type of worker suffers from “the impossibility of predicting what their workload will be” and therefore “remuneration”, one more factor that influences mental health, according to Silvia Fernández Martínez, a postdoctoral researcher in the field. Labor Law and Social Security of the University of Alcalá on Psychosocial risks at work are carried out through digital boards. The lack of reconciliation between professional and personal life also increases the risk of depression and its perpetuation over time. The problem with the prescribed economy gig is that it is impossible to take the time off work to recover your health without any risk of income.

Nomophobia and nymphophone

Another consequence of being on the wheel of work, which depends on algorithms, is the absolute dependence on mobile, the tool of work that allows access to deliverables and returns and therefore the necessary permanent connection. And here Professor Fernández Prieto, from the University of Vigo, introduces two words derived from the approach to new technologies that these workers are already working on: nomophobia, or the fear of losing communication or connection with the platform, and the telephone, obsessive attention to machines. lest he should lose order. and both go through workers in the gig economy.

The problem with submitting to the dictates of the giant economy is that it is impossible to have a period of time to recover your health.

For the very manner in which the work is organized increases the danger of both the French. The platform can make the worker guilty if he disconnects and “says his personal time of his life”, because he “loses orders and reduces his score on the platform”, recalls Silvia Fernández Martínez, thus the line between work and rest. ending up scaring and increasing the risk of psychosocial restlessness.

There are various precarious workers who do not have wages and in many cases lack social protection. They are separated from the company and it is difficult to solve problems in an easy and agile way with someone higher up. The common people are also exposed, but not only by the platform, which forces them to be more efficient with their conditions, but by the clients, on whom the other lot depends; a bad estimate causes them to fall into the ranks of the most excellent workers.

In addition, against the conflict with the client, the workers do not receive support from the company, but users receive a discount or a reward so that they do not leave the platform. “They are subject to a virtual and potential global harassment that is much more intense than the rest of the workers, which is why the disturbance over time appears oversized and diluted”, indicates from the Department of Labor Law and Social Security University. Leon, Henar Álvarez, in his article On the challenges of the collaborative economy in preventing occupational hazards.

These types of people who work on platforms belong to what various authors have called a new type of social, collaborative or technological “precariat” (e-precariat), or even “legions of noisy servants” who depend on the assessment. the client is working hard to continue and who has no hours or minimum income. The state of vulnerability that people already have on the line is precarious to face every day: young or naked people tend to go to these types of platforms, as are immigrants who, in many cases, lack documents to be able to work; they are withdrawn from the other workers of the platform.

Are these conditions typical of the 21st century and the new technologies that have hit the unprepared job market? Perhaps the members who make up the gig economy are not far from the Scottish mines of the 18th century, or that is what Professor Keith Bender, of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, points out.

In the 18th century, Adam Smith noted that miners had to be paid for their work, and he realized that these miners could work “to the bone” to earn more money with negative effects on their health. “This connection between pay and performance and health has been studied very little since Smith,” says Professor Bender. So the University of Aberdeen has done a study for three years, where they want to see those links between performance, energy and health. Economists and psychologists are working together to monitor the hormone cortisol in people who work on platforms compared to wage workers. The results have not yet been published but will be key to determining future labor relations.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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