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Gig work a ‘new normal’ but falls short in labour protection

“Normally, I go to work at about 5am every day and except for a lunch break, I drive until evening. The goal I set is to earn RM300 per day,” 45-year-old e-hailing driver Loke Soke Lam told Malaysiakini.

He was born and raised in Ipoh, Perak and was working in the oil and gas industry in Singapore for 20 years. His monthly salary at the time was about RM10,000.

A few years ago, he decided to come back to Malaysia to continue his career in the industry, but as there was often employment gaps between the oil pipeline projects, he began to work as an e-hailing driver as his main source of income during the gaps.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, he drove for nearly 10 hours a day, which may be longer than the average traditional full-time employee.

Back then, his monthly income as a full-time e-hailing driver was about RM6,000 if he deducted the expenses such as petrol, insurance and car maintenance. But his income plummeted in the wake of the pandemic.

As the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, the world has had to adapt to a “new normal”.

Due to the movement restrictions in various countries, the global economy has slumped and market demand has plunged, forcing many local enterprises to explore cost-saving options.

The National Security Council (NSC) has also pointed out that the new normal after Covid-19 will include working from home, online learning as well as the rapid development of the gig economy.

But the emergence of the gig economy in Malaysia is nothing new.

From the increase in contracted employees and dispatched labour, the trend of workers turning to providing “on-demand services” has been gaining traction in the gig economy over the past decade...

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