Freelance workers complain of unfair wages

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi

Workers in the gig economy have complained about the unpleasant working conditions they work in.

The gig economy is characterised by a labour market comprised of freelance and short term jobs, so called ‘gigs’, which are usually mediated via digital labour platforms and can be either conveyed and carried out online.

The workers comprising digital workers and those engaged in virtual work said they are not earning living wages from their operations.

The President of the Ghana Online Drivers Union, Francis Tenge, said the conditions under which they work as online and platforms workers make a living wage difficult.

“We are suffering as platform workers. Most of us hire cars from their owners to work on the applications on a ‘work and pay’ basis. The platform is charging GH¢100, the driver who’s is working 16 hour gets GH¢20, car owner gets GH¢70.

“We don’t earn any living wage. They give us bonuses with conditions that put so much pressure on us. We have to work long hours, buy fuel, then after making sales to your car owner, you are left with nothing,” he said during a virtual workshop for stakeholders in the digital labour platform ecosystem in Ghana on May 27, 2022.

Another online worker, Edward Sackey, explained that due to high illiteracy among some drivers working on the platforms, they are unable to report when incidents occur.

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Consequently, he said the few reports by the workers are not treated with any urgency.

“These apps offer bonuses that come with conditions and trip targets are unrealistic to win the bonuses. Imagine you drive through the rain to pick a rider from an unmotorable place where ordinarily one cannot get a taxi only receive a charge far lower than normal fare even with a taxi.

“They should be just be fair to us, charge correct fares and let us also make some money,” he said.

The workers also called on the government to develop policies to regulate the sector, looking at the number of people working in the sector.


"They should be just be fair to us, charge correct fares and let us also make some money "


Ghana has witnessed a rapid growth of the platform economy, and its associated employment opportunities for thousands of its citizens, in recent years. However, recently, gig workers have agitated against their platform employers about their low wages.

Consequently, the stakeholders’ workshop was organised by Fairwork as part of a series of engagements with relevant stakeholders to deliberate on policies and actions that would ensure that gig workers earn fair wages from platform work.

Participants included gig platforms, gig workers, and various experts and representatives from government institutions.

The Fairwork Ghana project is supported by ‘Invest for Jobs’ of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by GIZ.

The project is hosted by the University of Ghana Business School and implemented in collaboration with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and the University of Witswatersrand, South Africa.

Fairwork launched its maiden report on the working conditions of gig workers in Ghana last year. The Project Lead, Fairwork Ghana Project, Prof. Richard Boateng, said the Fairwork Ghana project evaluates the working conditions of digital labour platforms against five global principles of Fairwork, including fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation.

Fairwork to launch report on working conditions of Ghana's digital labour platform

He said platforms operating in Ghana such as Uber, Bolt, Bolt Food, Yango, Black Ride, Swift Wheel, IFerch, Eziban, Jumia Food and Glovo are scored against all five principles to assess whether they provide basic labour standards like minimum wage or protection against accidents.

It emerged from the workshop that a comprehensive inter-agency engagement (platforms, workers, government-related and allied agencies, researchers) would be required to be instituted to share and implement initiatives that would benefit all sides and remove perceived exploitation.

“Policy from government should be instructive on issues relating contracts, representation, conditions and management.

“Government should be up to speed in understanding and releasing workable regulations on the current unfavourable bias in working conditions,” a statement issued after the workshop said.