Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation.
Ricky and his family have been fighting an uphill struggle against debt since the 2008 financial crash. An opportunity to wrestle back some independence appears with a shiny new van and the chance to run a franchise as a self employed delivery driver. It's hard work, and his wife's job as a carer is no easier. The family unit is strong but when both are pulled in different directions everything comes to breaking point.
Kris Hitchen took inspiration for his part from his time working as a plumber in the years between acting jobs. See more »
At 59 minutes and 37 seconds into the movie the head of a crew member is visible in the background mirror when Ricky is reading a letter from the school. See more »
I don't know what's got into you, I really don't. You're a smart kid just like Liza. You used to be in all the top sets. What is going on? Just give yourself some choices mate.
We've talked about this. You could go to uni.
Go to uni? What, and be like Harpoon's brother? £57 grand in debt and what? Working in a call centre now, getting smashed every weekend just to forget his problems. Of course.
Yeah, but it doesn't have to be like that does it? There's some good jobs out there.
[...] See more »
During the infancy of my career, many a time, being the most junior of the team, I usually ended up having to see poor patients who just made it to the clinic at closing time. I soon came to know that they were living far from civilisation, deep in rubber or palm oil estate. Coming to the hospital meant getting up at four in the morning, preparing breakfast for the school-going children and being able to get on the first 6 o'clock morning bus to town. Invariably, they would be delayed. The transport out to the main road would not turn up. Perhaps, the feeder bus would break down or the bus that they had to change left earlier.
They would eventually reach the hospital close to noon. After getting an earful for not keeping to their time, they would have to seen by the junior most doctor of the team. The senior ones would have left the clinic for more pressing needs. Unable to make a definitive plan of medical treatment for them, these patients who would require most of the expertise from the medical team ended up discarded by the system. They would be given another appointment; the whole ritual needs to be repeated. On top of all these, as they are daily wage earners, absence from work meant the loss of a day's earning.
I thought all these slave-like working conditions would end as the world changed. With globalisation, workers were promised working conditions and preservation of unassailable rights of the workers. Marx's dream of working for sustenance and having leisure time to enjoy the reason for their existence, they thought, would of fruition with the gig economy. They do a gig when and if they want. The workers would be their own boss. They work for themselves; not for the bosses or company. They do not work for a company but with the company. What the company failed to highlight were the fine prints, the exclusion clauses and the penalty they were to be imposed if specific rules are not followed.
Fast forward, and workers realise that the whole economy is just a scam. The same old economic ideology is just re-packaged. The same plot of scheming the poor to feed the rich is in full force. The workers continue breaking their back until a new horizon emerges. Who knows what else would they promise the next time. Meanwhile, like Sisyphus, the unendowed have the find simple pleasures within their unending cycle of hardship, a flicker of hope, resolution, pain and the curse of repeating it all over again.
Still reeling with debts from the 2008 economic downturn, Ricky thought he found a sure way to end his financial woes. The promise of good returns as an independent despatch services provider, he felt his hard work was the only thing that separated him from economic independence. For that, however, he needed to purchase a pickup van. For its down payment, he had to sell off the family car in which, the wife, Abbie, a home care nurse moved around to meet her patients.
Soon everyone realises that it is not all hunky-dory. Ricky has to spend long hours at work. Abbie finds it taxing to meet her demanding schedule. Their two teenage children are left to their devices. The parents are unable to meet up to their school and their children's emotional needs. Ricky's woes only accumulate. He has to pay damages for lost items which are not covered by insurance and to work despite his injuries after mugged.
It looks like the dependence on others will spill over on to the next generation. Their dependency on their digital hand-held devices is not mere addiction. It has become their essential tools to do their school, learning, communication and more. The digital world is another platform that is manipulated by the economic giants to make people fall at the service providers' feet. This is yet another doublespeak and the dehumanising trap of the neoliberal economy. Instead of building an antifragile society that grows stronger with every stress that is hurled upon them, we will be left with a brittle one, needing support at the mere thought of pressure.
Again, our electron microscopic friend, COVID-19 has shown us the fragility of the gig economy. Being locked down for two weeks may be excellent for family time and bonding, but neither bring in the cash nor pays the bills.
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