Technology and digitalization have potention to create decent jobs and sustainable enterprises

Ms Dagmar Walter, Director ILO India, provided her address at the Tripartite Consultation Workshop in India on Understanding and improving women's work on digital labour platforms

Statement | New Delhi, India | 23 July 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
Namaskar and good afternoon,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this tripartite consultation workshop on the platform economy and thank you very much for joining us today.

Digital platforms have gained a lot of attention over the past decade and we saw them grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote working arrangements have become more common throughout the world and in particular also in India.

The rise of digital platforms has also generated a lot of interest in the policy making circles, especially in the G20 and BRICS Ministerial meetings, where the opportunities and challenges related to the platform economy have been deliberated on extensively.

The ILO has been working on the issues related to digital labour platforms since 2015. The International Labour Conference in 2019 adopted the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, underling the need to respond to the digital transformation of work, including platform work, for promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

In February this year, the ILO released its flagship report on “The role of digital labour platforms in transforming the world of work”. It provides a comprehensive global picture of opportunities and challenges faced by workers and businesses on digital labour platforms by drawing on extensive surveys and interviews conducted with 12,000 workers in 100 countries, and with about 85 platform businesses of different types.

The report highlights that the rise of digital labour platforms has the potential to provide workers with income-generating opportunities and some degree of flexibility, while at the same time highlighting a number of challenges, such as low pay or remuneration, irregularity of work, lack of access to social protection, among others. Some of these challenges are magnified for women workers, particularly in developing countries. You will hear more about this from the author of the report, Uma Rani, in a short while.

In India, the ILO continues to support work on platform economy through two projects. The first one, on “Understanding and improving women's work on digital labour platforms”, builds on the existing work on platform economy and aims to better understand the rise of platform economy, with a particular focus on women workers.

The second one, on “Platformisation of work and its impact on traditional sector: Case studies of health and logistics sectors”, explores how a number of innovations developed for digital platforms, such as algorithmic management, tracking devices, feedback mechanisms, etc., are increasingly used by firms in the traditional sector, such as logistics, transportation and storage services, health, among others, to manage, monitor and supervise workers, which has implications on their working conditions. The adoption of such algorithmic management techniques in traditional sectors is also generating new challenges for workers' rights and job quality.

In line with the India Decent Work Country Programme 2018-2022, both the projects will contribute towards enhancing capacity of constituents to provide adequate labour protection to workers in diverse forms of work arrangements, including on digital labour platforms, and in informal employment. These projects along with the work that has already been conducted in India, would feed into an India report on Digital platforms by end of 2022.

Today’s workshop is being organized to inform you about the research project on “Understanding and improving women's work on digital labour platforms”.

We look forward to your views on the opportunities and challenges for workers and employers in India as a result of the digital transformations underway and the rise of the platform economy in today’s workshop and during the course of this research.

Your engagement and support will be vital in taking forward this timely project, and in building a better understanding of the platform economy in India, with a focus on women workers.

It is important to address the challenges and harness the fullest potential of technological progress and digitalization, including platform work, to create decent jobs and sustainable enterprises, as has been noted in the Call to Action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, which was adopted by you at the International Labour Conference last month.

I wish you all a fruitful discussion and a positive outcome in taking these projects forward.

Thank you for your kind attention.