18-20 August 2022

Gig Labor Struggles during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The case of the Philippines

Yvan Yonaha

Abstract:How does the pandemic impact on labor relations in the developing world? This paper contributes to our understanding of the entanglements of COVID-19 and worker movements by exploring how FoodPanda drivers struggled for better working conditions within the context of the Philippines. As in other Southeast Asian countries, labor movements in the Philippines are constrained by strong state control over the bargaining and organizing process and face intense international competition that may lead to a different regulatory regime compared with countries from the West.[1]  The opportunities presented by the pandemic – such as the essential status label – may have created new opportunities for gig workers to organize. From a critical realist perspective, I review publicly available news articles to create a general outlook of their working conditions as well as how the state and management respond to their actions. Moreover, I observe the interactions within a publicly available Facebook group gathering FoodPanda Riders and Bikers to understand how they make sense of their working conditions under the pandemic. The conversations within the platform reveal emerging narrative resources (Lévesque and Murray 2013) that challenge management explanations. I also take note of resistance to such narrative resources. 



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