Asia Pacific Update: July 30
In today’s edition, we take a look at how the gig economy model has been on the rise since the arrival of the pandemic, how workers across the Asia Pacific region are coping with the uncertainty and how a car brand in Indonesia pivoted their planned launch in response to government restrictions.
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Recovery Spotlight: The Gig Economy
COVID-19 has highlighted how gig work is critical and that the gig economy model is here to stay.
Economic uncertainty has led to more gig workers
Grab’s regional operations saw an additional 115,000 people sign up to become Grab drivers- or delivery-partners during the pandemic. Grab enabled flexible earning opportunities and gig work for these new partners, allowing them to quickly switch between GrabFood and GrabExpress depending on job availability. During the lockdown period in Thailand, food delivery providers Line and GoJek’s Get reported signing on 30,000 and 40,000 new drivers respectively. In Japan, Uber has launched a ride-hailing mobile app in partnership with three domestic taxi companies spurred by demand for ride-hailing services amid the pandemic. The company also seeks to capitalise on the demand for food delivery as Uber Eats has experienced an 89% y-o-y increase in revenues in Q2. Meanwhile, India’s gig economy will witness a massive rise post-pandemic generating between four and five million jobs over the next three to four years, according to a report by livemint.
Challenges faced by gig economy workers
Dubbed “essential workers” amid the ongoing pandemic, the gig economy has failed to live up to its promise of empowering workers and protect their interests. Frequently touted as ‘the biggest losers’ of the pandemic, gig workers are faced with the decision of whether to risk their personal safety to deliver and provide rides, or put their physical health ahead of their financial health and not work. Most governments across the region have been unable to provide assistance because they are not classified as workers but independent contractors. They also bear the brunt if governments respond to the huge increases in fiscal deficits by cutting back on future public spending.
Protecting gig workers
As case counts soar, Uber Eats Hong Kong recently launched an app tipping feature in which the restaurants or delivery partners can receive the entirety of the tip. They also introduced a verification process whereby delivery partners will be asked to take a selfie to confirm that their faces are covered. Food order apps in other countries have adopted similar features.
The crisis has intensified the call for gig economy workers to be provided with the same or equivalent safeguards and protections afforded to employees and other workers, including those relating to health and safety, as well as basic employment rights such as sick leave. Great Eastern Group Insurance customers can apply to pay annual premiums in quarterly instalments to ease their cash flow, making the program viable for gig economy workers.
Malaysia’s finance minister shared that only 7% or 28,425 gig economy workers are registered with the Social Security Organisation. The government has shared that they will be providing a social safety net system for the gig economy and informal sector workforce as part of the Penjana scheme. Australia’s Victorian government shared their inquiry into the state’s ‘on-demand workforce’ welfare. Based on a survey of 14,000 people, the report makes 20 regulatory recommendations including protective measures for workers and clarification of their employment status. The Australia Institute Centre for Future Work referred to gig workers as ‘digital sweatshop workers’.
Media analysis of stories covering the following countries: Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, Macau, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam
Period covered: 30 June to 30 July 2020
The Work of COVID-19: Launching the MG VS car virtually
The launch of the MG ZS in Indonesia was critical to the brand as it was its first foray into Indonesia. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the on-ground launch event had to be cancelled two days prior to the initial launch date of 19 March 2020.
In line with government restrictions on events, Weber Shandwick quickly pivoted to launch the MG ZS virtually via MG’s existing social platforms. We pre-recorded the launch and released the video online on 24 March 2020. The media were invited to watch online, with the press release and product fact sheets distributed after the virtual launch video was aired.
The video generated more than 602k views on YouTube. Together with other social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, the total views of this virtual launch reached more than one million. This virtual launch also spawned 131 media articles from the media in Jakarta and other cities across Indonesia.
About COVID-19 Recovery Report:
- The content of this news bulletin is a summary of publicly available news articles on events and developments related to COVID-19.
- The views and opinions reflected by these headlines do not necessarily represent those of Weber Shandwick.