Jan. 30 (UPI) -- South Korean workers in the country's tech-based "gig" economy say they are forming a union that could fight for labor rights and promote collective bargaining.
Workers whose rights are relatively unprotected but are obligated to work long hours in mobile app-based services like peer-to-peer ridesharing, taxi cab hailing and food delivery are joining forces as "platform workers," Yonhap reported Wednesday.
Lee Seong-jong, chairman of the preparatory committee of the new union, said the union or coalition is necessary because the digital labor market is unregulated.
"Digital technology that can break down labor into module units has emerged as a platform workplace that trades labor on the internet," Lee told reporters. "Platform workers who receive a commission per call only when needed are not covered by labor laws. It represents a blind spot for basic labor rights."
The activist added the group, "Platform Labor Solidarity," will become the "hands and feet" of disparate and unorganized workers of the tech-based economy, and work to build a "social safety net" for workers in precarious conditions.
Contractors or freelancers who work without basic benefits have often been categorized as "self-employed" or the owner of one's own business in South Korea.
But Lee and others are seeking recognition for the workers as laborers with powerful rights, Digital Daily reported Wednesday.
Temp workers who qualify would gain the "three labor rights" protected by South Korean law, including the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining and the right to collective action, according to the report.
Lee said the digital economy creates a "winner-takes-all" marketplace where insecure labor is at a disadvantage.
New labor policy can improve the digital marketplace through better welfare policies, Lee said.
The digital economy comprises anywhere from nine to 30 percent of the working population in South Korea, according to Digital Daily.