Legalising Deficit of Decent Work?: Social Dialogue in the Indonesian Gig Economy for Online Ojek (Ojol)

Mar 2022

For several years, the platform economy has permeated Indonesia’s economy, instilling hope for a better future work for Indonesia. Indonesian start-up digital-based companies have attracted big investments, allowing for a rapid growth of various consumer services at one's fingertips and broadening access to standardised online delivery services. There were times when the phenomenon was believed to be able to turn around national concerns over the trend of deindustrialisation, the decreasing employment elasticity in the economy, the lack of competitiveness of the business sector, and the middle-income trap. The use of applications to bring together supply and demand in both goods and services was seen as a promising way to cut the cost of rejuvenating the Indonesian economy.

While studies on the platform economy and gig work are growing, little has been revealed on how the online motorcycle taxi-drivers (known locally as ojek online or ojol) understand gig work and how they respond to the debates and concerns around gig work. In our study we ask: How do these ojol understand gig work? How do they respond to the debates and concerns around gig work in the platform economy? How much do these ojol bring home every day? How long are their working hours and their working days per month? How much are their daily operation costs? Do these ojol have the needed health and employment insurance? Do these ojol perceive themselves as “partners” of the platform company? Do these ojol wish to be “partners” or “employees” of the application company? What are the main topics of debate and issues of concerns around ojol? In short, this research maps the discourse of work in the platform economy while identifying the enabling environment for improving the well-being of gig workers, including ways to organise them.