China/ The Gig economy — Visible and Vocal (April 4th 2020)
Amid the pandemic, home-delivery services are proving vital in China. They are powered by a new sort of worker.
Food-delivery firms played a crucial role in helping people in China endure the lockdown.
For migrants from the countryside, the job is an unusually easy ticket to city life. Factory workers must have a skill. But some riders are hired as soon as they upload copies of an identity card and health certificate to an app. The pay is usually better than on an assembly line.
The xiaoge (小哥) have helped build food delivery in China into a $46bn business, the world’s largest and twice the size of America’s. In 2018 Meituan(美團) and Ele.me(餓了麼) had about 6m riders between them. Demand for workers is growing fast. Sanford C. Bernstein, a research firm, reckons Meituan will need more than 1m delivery people a day next year, 200,000 more than last year. On average last summer, its yellow-jacketed army handled 20,000 orders a minute).
Food delivery allows migrant workers to choose their own work hours, but the stress is still immense. Some work six days a week, ten hours a day, even in the grimmest weather. And also some workers jump red lights every day to avoid late-delivery penalties. Moreover, they want respect.
In the long run, riders are unlikely to be satisfied. They risk becoming “trapped in the middle” — unable to move forward in urban life and unwilling to retreat to a rural one. A newly arrived waimai xiaoge(外賣小哥) said: “Everyone likes a big city. But you can’t do this for ever. You need to do something that gives you a way up.”
Vocabulary / 單字學習
1. 零工經濟: gig economy, gig work(er), gig jobs / 平台經濟 platform economy / 隨選經濟 on-demand economy /群眾外包 crowdsourcing / 斜槓 slash
2. 美食外送服務: food-delivery services, app-based transport services /外送員: food courier, home-delivery workers, takeaway lad, riders /外送訂單: takeout orders / 接單: pick up orders.
3. 推出非接觸式的遞送服務: roll out contactless delivery system
4. 廉價的勞動力、大量中產階級和幾乎普級的智慧手機，促進了網路送餐服務的發展，發展程度在富裕社會中無人能及 : The combination of an abundant supply of cheap labour, a large middle class and near-universal access to smartphones had fostered the growth of online food-delivery services to a degree unmatched in the rich world.
5. 闖紅燈: jump red lights, run the red light / 超速: break the speed limit, speeding tickets(超速罰單)
6. 裁員: lay off employees, sack employees, companies are shedding staff, cut staff, our company is going to downsize and some staff will be fired, you’ve been let go.
7. 罷工: go on strike, be on strike, coordinate strikes /對工作提出嚴格要求: impose tough requirements for the job / 群聚: congregate / 委屈: grievance / 推欠薪水: wage arrears / 減薪和罰款: pay cuts and fines.
8. 大量的: myriad / 龐大的: immense
9. 進退兩難: trapped in the middle, stuck in the middle