IGF 2023 Town Hall #41 Platform Futures: The case for the Driver Advisory Council

Issue(s)

Future & Sustainable Work in the World of Generative AI

Birds of a Feather - 60 Min

Description

Aapti Institute's the Driver Advisory Council (DAC) represents a new framework for engagement between gig workers and platforms in the ride hail space - a first of its kind initiative in India. The larger aim of this innovation is to create a self-regulatory mechanism for platform governance that focuses on gig workers rights, enabling participatory action and reflexive praxis. The initiative, launched in partnership with Uber India, recognises the primacy of workers' roles in the gig economy, to ensure that platform policy and product are informed by their lived experiences. To ensure independence from Uber, Aapti performed the role of the independent review board within the DAC, formulating practices and principles for the operation of the Council. In establishing the DAC, Aapti reviewed ~100,000 applications from drivers across 6 Indian cities and convened the inaugural Council with 60 members, including both male and female drivers. The council met 5 times over the course March 2022-23, deliberating upon significant issues' such as workers' safety and well-being, income security, health and discrimination.
The hope is to continue the independently-managed DAC over years, with a rotating membership. Besides implementing immediate changes that have an impact on selected themes, we believe efforts such as the DAC have far-ranging societal benefits as well. Participative dialogue can help generate a body of evidence on issues faced by driver partners, to enable evidence-based, incremental revisions to regulations.
It is our contention that this innovation, one that ushers a participatory future for platform governance, merits further dialogue across sectors and geographies. While the employment opportunities afforded by the rise of the gig economy are enormous, there exists certain concerns around workers' exploitation that are seldom addressed in the current regulatory ecosystem for platform capitalism. Thus, it becomes crucial to empower workers' voices in ways that enhance their quality of work and reduce the inherent precariousness associated with platform-mediated labour. In such a context, the DAC presents a novel mechanism to understand workers' priorities, manage attrition through proactive response and truly expand the scope for participatory decision-making in the platform economy.
Through this session, Aapti hopes to bring like-minded stakeholders together, with deep linkages to the platform governance landscape, to examine the DAC's value as a powerful precedent. We believe that the session can help unpack the viability of the DAC model of engagement that is poised to usher a rights-based approach to gig work. In fact, the DAC and similar models represent an important conduit in bridging the gap between the lived experience of gig workers and forthcoming regulations for the gig economy, with IGF surfacing the appropriate forum to socialise the model.

Relevant links:
1. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/uber-launches-driver-adv…
2. http://www.uniindia.com/uber-announces-2nd-edition-of-driver-advisory-c…
3. https://oecd-opsi.org/innovations/driver-advisory-council-for-uber-indi…

The session is structured in a manner that invites engagement from participants present both onsite and offline. It will open with a presentation on the DAC and Aapti's experience of instituting the council as the IRB [5 mins], followed by a short question and answer session [5 mins] . Following this, the moderators will proceed with a guided discussion [50 mins] around 3 key questions, found below:

1. What are the policy needs and gaps/blind spots within the platform gig economy that merit immediate attention? Are there any alternative forms of governance that can be leveraged to address these gaps?
2. Recent observations by academics and regulators have suggested a move towards self-regulatory paradigms for the platform gig economy. How do initiatives such as the DAC fit within this milieu?
3. The DAC reimagines platform governance towards more participatory futures. Is this model replicable across the various work arrangements that constitute the platform gig economy?

The guided discussion with pre-determined prompts and appropriate direction from the moderators will allow for a diversity of views to be discussed within the session while managing time limits. Additionally, tools such as an online Miro board, with a shareable link that is accessible used to online and onsite participants, will be employed to collect responses and map emerging insights from the discussion. The Miro will also serve as the basis for collating a policy brief that will be circulated amongst participants post the session.

Organizers

Aapti Institute
Soujanya Sridharan, Aapti Institute, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Kunal Raj Barua, Aapti Institute, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Priyanka Navle, Uber in India, Private sector, Asia-Pacific Group

Speakers

Soujanya Sridharan, Aapti Institute, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Kunal Raj Barua, Aapti Institute, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Priyanka Navle, Uber in India, Private sector, Asia-Pacific Group [Online]

Onsite Moderator

Soujanya Sridharan

Online Moderator

Priyanka Navle

Rapporteur

Kunal Raj Barua

SDGs

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
8.8


Targets: For countries in the Global South plagued by unemployment and under-employment, platform-mediated work represents a compelling vehicle for job creation, with estimates suggesting over 30 million individuals are currently engaged in the sector. However, workers' lived experience demonstrate that algorithmic-mediation of labour bring with them a host of challenges, undermining the ability to realise 'decent' and 'dignified' work in the process. Further, prevalent global regulatory obfuscation and vacuum around platform capitalism have only served to erode gig workers' rights, calling on businesses and policymakers alike to reimagine their relationship with labour.

Against this backdrop, the DAC heralds the promise of a better future for workers, privileging their well-being as the guiding imperative of all the activities undertaken by platforms. It helps overcome regulatory lacuna and gamification by championing a model of self-regulation that compels engagement between platforms, workers and policymakers - an arrangement hitherto unexplored within the platform economy. Lastly, it sets the stage for the creation of coalition-based formulations for governance of the platform economy, with models like the DAC setting standards for fair compensation, transparent rating systems, collective bargaining and representation, as well as grievance redressal - important considerations that constitute critical pathways to realise SDG 8.