Consumer ‘app-etite’ for workers' rights in the Australian ‘gig’ economy
Journal of Choice Modelling
School of Business and Law
University of Western Australia
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd The emergence of the ‘gig’ economy is disrupting industries, reshaping the organisation of work and the terms and conditions under which work is carried out. In effect, the terms and conditions of ‘gig’ work mean that minimum standards, for example minimum wages, that are attached to work in advanced capitalist economies like Australia, regularly do not apply to ‘gig’ work. This study explores the attitudes and understandings of Australian consumers towards work conditions and entitlements in app-based food-delivery services. The study explores whether consumers are willing to pay to ensure ‘gig’ workers receive equivalent minimum entitlements and whether an awareness-raising treatment influences their moral consumption behaviours. This is achieved by employing a survey and a choice experiment to assess moral decision-making of consumers. To date, a moral dimension in discrete choice models has been dominated by sustainability in transport, discussed from the perspective of personal lifestyle or adherence to social norm. The study's focus on consumers and their concern for worker entitlements, therefore, makes a unique contribution. Our findings demonstrate that consumers have a very low awareness of worker entitlements in the ‘gig’ economy. While the choice experiment highlights that a significant proportion of the treatment group was willing to pay more to increase the earnings and conditions of food-delivery workers, at the same time it found that their willingness to pay would unlikely result in a sustained improvement in working conditions and lead to ‘decent work’ standards. The study further highlights that bridging the boundary between choice modelling methodologies and industrial relations research offers potential insights into the moral motivations behind decisions made by industrial relations actors.