SINGAPORE (July 29): In a Telegram group chat for Deliveroo riders, a member took a screenshot of his earnings from the food delivery platform. It suggests that he makes more than $4,000 a month, similar to what many white-collar workers earn and close to Singapore’s monthly median wage of about $4,400. But the trade-off for the somewhat lucrative gig is long hours on the road, almost every day. Similarly, a private-hire car driver, 47-year-old Danny, spends between 12 and 15 hours a day on the road, more than five days a week. He brings home over $5,000 a month. While the hours are gruelling, he says it is better than any job he could score without a tertiary education certification. He was a sales agent for a decade and did a stint in construction before that.

These accounts are familiar among people who work in the sharing economy, or gig workers — loosely des­cribed as individuals who work on a short-term or freelance basis, instead of having permanent employment. Grab, for one, calls them “partners” and “micro-entrepreneurs”. 

The ride-hailing and online food delivery services sectors form a big part of the gig economy. Analysts have estimated that about 4% of Singapore’s labour force is working for the tech platforms, and that their net income amounted to roughly $1 billion last year.

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