#Slaveroo: Crowdsourcing a strike-fund for exploited gig economy workers

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/13/slaveroo-crowdsourcing-a-str.html



I bet this is a sign that Deliveroo isn’t a viable business.


I do not understand this line of reasoning. That pay option is simply unacceptable.

So Quit.

Find employment who’s wages are acceptable. Refuse to work for non living wages. And if everyone does this; soon if an employer wants something done, they will have to pay a living wage to get someone to do the job.

The only reason why employers can do this is because people lap it up and work in these conditions. They want us to forget that they need us as much as we need them.

(And I know people will say that this is economic privilege or something like that… but if you work a job that leaves you poorer at the end of the month you need to adjust something -your lifestyle or your job- because that’s just a big debt trap waiting to happen and you’ll be worse off still…)


Some of us have been saying that things have been broken for years now (I started when Major was PM and carried on with Blair onwards), and no-one listened to us. We have now reached the point where it is too expensive to live anywhere near where the jobs are and the only affordable places are economically depressed.

The DWPs response to someone turning down a zero hour contract job is to sanction them for six months. That’s six months with no money at all.

I’ve been trying to avoid it but maybe the only solution is revolution. There are too many ways that could go bad though.

We’re all fucked, except for the 0.1%


I’ll commend you for not being One of Those Commenters who would’ve stopped after ‘quit’, contributing nothing but a glib, empty post. Instead, you substantiated why you see things this way. You also framed your view as one of potential misunderstanding—again, commendable. These are good discussion habits. Keep them up.

You’re almost certainly going to receive a flurry of critical responses, but from your post here I’m hopeful that this will be a productive discussion.


Alas, it’s the Prisoner’s dilemma game writ huge. If enough people refused to work for substandard wages, then employers couldn’t get work done except by paying good wages and everyone would be much happier. There are so many people undervaluing their labor or finding lower ways to survive and selling their labor for less that the bar has ben lowered past the starvation point.

In a way, I’m saying don’t strike the delivery service… strike everything that doesn’t pay enough to live on.


I don’t have the framework of macro- and microeconomics to assess this situation, let alone make conjectures of how to resolve it. This much I do know: economics, as a field, is only now revising itself to acknowledge that human beings are not, individually or collectively, rational actors.


What if those jobs don’t exist where these folks are?

Also, your entire comment is basically talking about the role of unions. Unions worked at raising the standard of living for industrial workers in the middle of last century. Having a place at the table for an organized movement helped. We’re seeing the fall out from both de-industrialization and the shrinking of union membership.

Yep. As always, spot on.


They’re technically independent contractors, so the solution may be more interesting that you think: Form guilds.

Unions have a lot of legal obstacles these days, but the gig economy may yet offer an opportunity to re-litigate the losses for organized labor by resorting to an ancient practice.


Is there any hope that worker-owned versions of companies like Uber will actually flourish in the future? One side of me says that platforms will mature to enable the easier creation and maintenance of these companies. The other, more pragmatic side says that they will still require a significant amount of business administration.


I think that would be lovely. It’s an already existing model that’s workable.


Is uber worker owned? In any case, there’s nothing utopic about uber. It’s very, very exploitative. And it’s business model is dependant on building a monopoly, then jacking up prices and lowering wages.


No, and I don’t think that’s what @metacyclotron was implying, but that this could be an alternative mode of doing this same business?


I think the flaw in this strand of your argument is that you’re implying that people “freely choose” to undervalue their labour. What’s missing from this is a couple of points:

  1. The full coercive power of the state is arrayed against attempts to refuse low-paying work. Look at what happens to people who refuse exploitative work, or organise against this. It’s various shades of not good.
  2. The lack of any alternative means of subsistence forces people to accept some form of offer of employment. This has been the case ever since enclosure and the rise of industrialism.
  3. Low-skill labour is always going to be undervalued because it doesn’t react the same way to supply and demand as any other commodity. If the price of Labour goes down, the supply will increase, because the people involved have to maintain their income in order to live (see points 1 and 2).

Unions are part of the answer to this, as are minimum wages or Universal basic income. But again, see point 1. The neoliberal state has been pushing hard against unionisation for decades., because the current situation suits a number of vested interests.


Yeah, cos it’s that easy. Yeesh.


Yup. Last time I was on the dole, I got sanctioned for refusing to go for an interview for some crappy job as I had a formal offer for a better position starting four weeks later. If I’m ever unemployed again and need to claim, the last five months of that sanction will still apply. If I was in that situation, I’d be better off spending every penny I had from my last paycheque on drugs and reselling them than even speaking to the DWP.


Here in Canada we have a fun thing called the ‘temporary foreign worker program’. So when an employer can’t get anyone from Canada to work a job at a given wage, they apply to the program and import someone from abroad to work there. Instead of, you know, paying a better wage.

I would have no actual problem with bringing in immigrants - in fact immigration tends to boost economic growth, and Canada does more of it than most countries to our benefit. But these poor suckers end up without any real path to citizenship, and utterly dependent on the employer for their jobs (can’t switch jobs). And you have to know that those employers exploit the shit out of that power.

So the program has the dual purpose of screwing over local workers who refuse to work for crap pay, all-but enslaving foreign workers who end up with zero to minimal rights, and whipping up the danders of the various troglodytes who think the reason their life sucks is because nonwhite people.

I have had bad experiences with unions, and they don’t tend to deal with change very well. At this point they feel very much like 19th century responses to 21st century problems. I really feel like we need to come up with something more effective, responsive and that isn’t company or industry specific. Something that helps defend our individual rights and the basic right to a decent living while also being responsive to the dizzying pace of change we are currently experiencing.

I lack the creativity to have an actual idea how to do that without accidentally forming a globalized gang of black shirts, but I’m open to ideas. A universal basic minimum income that empowers every individual to refuse crap work and choose to live a healthy but extremely frugal lifestyle would be a great start.


Metacyclotron said “worker-owned versions of companies like Uber.”


Yes I think @metacyclotron was reffering to this article: