China’s gig economy workers encouraged to form unions

The state labour union voiced out that gig workers should have stronger worker protection and labour rights.
By: | July 23, 2021

Gig economy workers in China employed by online platforms have been encouraged by the country’s government-backed union to form unions to strengthen their negotiation power with Big Tech. 

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which is the only legal labour union in China, voiced out this week calling for stronger worker protection and labour rights in the gig economy, reports the South China Morning Post.

The gig economy in China is estimated to employ around 200 million people country-wide. On-demand services providers like Meituan and, and ride-hailing companies like Didi Chuxing, have employed millions of employees on a temporary basis.

Such workers often have weaker labour protections than their full-time working counterparts, and weaker negotiating power. Between 2016 and 2021, Hong Kong-based NGO China Labour Bulletin (CLB) registered 131 cases of food delivery worker protests. 

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“The state has praised the achievements of these big platform companies in the past, about how they have pushed the economy into a more hi-tech direction,” said Aidan Chau, researcher at CLB, according to the publication. 

“But in the meantime, the platforms have come to control a large amount of data generated by workers and consumers, often neglecting the lives of their workers as they conquer new industries.”