11 10

By Nadia Zaifulizan

In Malaysia job opportunities are limited, and unemployment are real issues for graduates. Many  resort to gig jobs such as Foodpanda, Grabcar and many more. The gig economy is gaining traction locally, but we are behind in terms of policies and legislation to protect workers in the gig economy. This is why we were unable to protect the Foodpanda riders outside of Klang valley when their pay scheme was changed. Did you know that there are about 13,000 Foodpanda riders in Malaysia?

Protecting them means providing measures that would ensure their livelihoods when they are working, which means proactive actions, not merely reactions which force corporations into obedience. Such reactions could have even bigger implications, especially to other gig workers. When job outcomes are unfavourable, it is not a simple indicator of a company’s character. The effects of long-term policies, existing legislations, internal capacity, as well as current market conditions, has a direct impact on how a company makes its decisions.

The decision to employ workers and determine payment schemes are at the hands of the company, but all companies are businesses. The change of Foodpanda riders’ payment scheme (outside of Klang Valley) was an indicator that the company is willing to pay only if riders are directly fulfilling the orders. The previous basic hourly pay is now eliminated from riders’ salary scheme. Now, riders are only paid based on the number of orders they deliver. Although the payment per order is increased, the loss of hourly pay to riders is substantial. This means that the riders’ pay is directly proportional to the amount of delivery they do. If there is traffic congestion or bad weather, the riders will have difficulty in earnings. This is now a newly occurring differentiating factor between the job as a Foodpanda rider and various other jobs. Because the riders’ pay is directly associated with how much work they can do, and the work they do is the key element behind these businesses. Businesses save manpower costs by only paying for services that produce revenue (the food delivered). This is satisfactory for the business, but not very sustainable for the workers. In terms of economy, the business will be able to grow, but more people will be marginalized.

The issue of Foodpanda riders are only the tip of the iceberg. Employment in Malaysia has been a difficult endeavour for years. National unemployment rate is 3.3%, which is relatively high compared to many of our Asian counterparts. Currently, the most important issue is not only the availability of jobs but also the structure of work that is available in Malaysia. Although the current gig economy introduced a newer form of jobs for many people, its implementation in Malaysia is still based on older employment models.
According to Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, newer upstart businesses are disrupting older, more orthodox industries. New Power means that newer forces of change are driving the world into more open, collaborative, and crowd sharing efforts in many areas including employment through the gig economy. The influence from New Power produces benefits for many levels of society. In Malaysia, the gig jobs benefit the company by the revenue that the company receives. The gig jobs also benefit the customers by the service it delivers. However, the workers gain very little benefits in return for the time and effort they put in.

We have previously shared about the gig economy and the changing patterns of employment in the future, especially with current technological advancements that are likely to grow. We have also previously discussed about the areas of employment that will likely flourish in the future. Newer concept or ideas can be implemented to improve current practices but using the same old framework will not be effective. The gig economy can disrupt the more conservative forms of businesses, but its worth lies in the value it brings to every member of society, not just the corporate entities.

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