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Assessing work organization strategies of Johannesburg based e-hailing drivers.

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The researcher has a brother that was an e-hailing driver in the year 2018. He had a number of traumatic experiences whilst working for this industry such as being hijacked, robbed, and verbally abused. As a family, we would always be relieved when he made it back home alive. The researcher could not help but imagine if this was what every family was experiencing with every person working in this industry. The researcher started reading a lot about this industry trying to understand all its advantages and disadvantages in the labour market to educate the worried family about the industry. The industry research led to an interest to formalize the research into an academic dissertation. The aim of this dissertation is to unpack the current work arrangements and conditions of the e-hailing platforms in Johannesburg, with the intention to shine a light on this industry for it to be acknowledged and fully regulated by the government. The aim of this study will be addressed by answering the below research questions: 1. How is work organized for e-hailing drivers in Johannesburg? 2. How are e-hailing drivers protected under the South African labour legislation? 3. To what extent can the South African labour legislation be adjusted to accommodate changes to the extant employment relationships of e-hailing drivers? 4. How does the case of e-hailing drivers allow us to understand conceptually the broader nature of precarious work in South Africa? Background of the Study The entrance of e-hailing services in South Africa has brought about many mixed emotions in the country. As there are some who appreciate the job creation and travelling convenience created by the e-hailing platforms, there are some who are against the e-hailing platform as it presents unfair competition in the market, poor working conditions and ambiguous employment titles for the e-hailing drivers. This is dissertation is important because although e-hailing work is advertised as a way of creating an extra income to the public, it has however become a main source of income for drivers on the dissertation platform (Hall & Kreuger, 2018). As shown in chapter 5, majority of the participants indicated that they were full time in the e-hailing industry. This piece of information further solidifies why it is important for the government to fully regulate this industry, as there are people who are fully relying on this industry for a living. The e-hailing services had drastically spread throughout the country, it is important for the government to note that the labour legislation’s duty is to protect all the vulnerable in the labour market. Problem Statement The developments in technological inventions and economic restructuring over the past years have encouraged the rise of new business models that are disrupting numerous traditional industries and bringing a challenge to current employment laws (Isaac, 2014). The current labour legislation does not address the issues that platform workers are facing. The question of how to regulate the platform industry and how to define the workers in this market is still being debated (Horney, 2016). So far, the pace of action has been slow. According to the literature, this is because, due to the competitive nature of the e-hailing economy, workers are often unwilling to cooperate to make a collective claim to enforce their rights; speaking out could jeopardize an individual's job due to the ease of rating and high reliance on reputation (De Stefano, 2015). More regulation is required to protect the rights of such workers. The issues surrounding this ambiguous category of the workers must be resolved, and more rights must be established (De Stefano, 2015). Precarious work arrangement has the potential to destabilise society as it is a threat to social and economic stability. This can have a great impact on the standard of living of both individuals and societies. Research Methodology This research chose the qualitative research method. This research will use the case study research design. The target population for this dissertation is Johannesburg based e-hailing drivers that are approximately 3000 in Johannesburg. A purposive sampling method was applied for this dissertation selecting 15 former Johannesburg-hailing drivers. The data collection method used both semi-structured interviews and secondary data.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.