ILO Working paper 100

The platform economy and transformations in the world of work: The case of delivery platform workers in Santiago, Chile

This paper examines the experiences of delivery workers on digital labor platforms in Chile and analyses the implications of the platform business model. It highlights challenges in working conditions and algorithmic management practices, which are crucial to address for ensuring decent work, as Chile moves towards implementing a new law to regulate platform work.

The growth of digital labour platforms has significantly changed the world of work in Santiago, Chile, especially in the taxi and delivery sectors. This has gained even further prominence since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Delivery platforms, in particular, have gained prominence offering various services, such as delivery from restaurants, supermarkets and pharmacies, with a promise of higher efficiency. However, this growth has also brought attention to the challenges faced by the workers on these platforms. Debates are ongoing about how to provide fair working conditions for platform workers. Chile has recently taken legislative measures in this direction. This paper aims to contribute to this debate by focusing on the diverse experiences of mobile application-based delivery workers in the country, while also examining the business model of delivery platforms that rely on new technologies to mediate work, as well as the consequences for workers. This paper draws on the data from the in-person survey conducted in Santiago in 2019, involving 259 mobile application-based delivery workers and 50 traditional delivery workers, as well as a follow-up survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in August 2020. The paper provides insights into how different delivery platforms have operated in Chile and their effects on workers in terms of earnings, working hours, occupational health and safety, and social protection.