Top Stories

March 03, 2020


Coronavirus could devastate gig economy workers

A courier firm banned a zero-hours delivery driver from working without pay after she was exposed to a possible case of coronavirus, highlighting the financial risk for gig economy workers. The firm, Hermes, relented after union action. Those working in the gig economy, in which individuals work short-term contracts or freelance with no permanent employer, are at risk of losing their income if they take sick leave because typical employee rights do not apply. These workers are also potentially more at risk of contamination from the coronavirus as gig economy jobs often entail being in close proximity with various members of the public. Examples include couriers, minicab drivers and food delivery workers. Self-isolation would mean an ability to perform these types of work. Similarly, the possibility of “population distancing” measures introduced by governments, such as cancelling public gatherings and events, could significantly affect gig economy workers in the hospitality industry. (Huffington Post)

Biodiversity/Tech for Good

Tech companies take down 3 million online listings for trafficked wildlife

E-commerce companies in the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, such as Ebay and Alibaba, have reportedly removed or blocked over 3 million listings for endangered and threatened species and associated products from their online platforms to date. These listings included live tigers, reptiles, primates and birds for the exotic pet trade, as well as products derived from species like elephants, pangolins and marine turtles. Offline and in the Wild, a report about progress made by companies involved in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)-convened coalition, finds that efforts taken by these companies are helping to shut down the cloud-based trade routes cybercriminals rely on for exploiting wildlife. In addition to blocking or removing illegal wildlife trade related information, Coalition companies have launched user engagement initiatives to promote wildlife conservation reaching millions of internet users. (3BL Media)

Climate Activism

Greenpeace ‘shuts down’ 100 Barclays branches over fossil fuel funding

Environmental campaigners forced nearly 100 Barclays branches across the UK to close on Monday. Greenpeace activists installed pop-up exhibitions in bank entrances to draw attention to Barclays’ funding for fossil fuel companies. They blocked 97 branches in towns and cities including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. Greenpeace is demanding Barclays scales back its support for companies and projects that are not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to 1.5C. Barclays was recently named as Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuels, providing £66 billion between 2016 and 2018. Barclays lent $13 billion to the top 30 fracking companies, $3.3 billion to coal power firms and $2.5 billion to tar sands pipeline companies. Barclays also faces a shareholder resolution at its annual general meeting in May to stop financing companies that are driving the climate crisis. (Independent)


Rich countries could be asked to pay billions to protect biodiversity

Wealthy nations could be asked to make significant financial contributions to countries with high biodiversity under proposals put forward during talks on a global agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity decline. Paying countries with life-sustaining ecosystems for the natural services they provide for the world was proposed during negotiations on a Paris-style United Nations agreement on nature last week. Conservationists hope the eventual agreement will provide an accessible, science-based global goal on biodiversity loss, equivalent to targets to limit global heating, following warnings from scientists that humans are driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history. Delegates from more than 140 countries were responding for the first time to a draft 20-point agreement that includes proposals to protect almost a third of the world’s oceans and land and reduce pollution from plastic waste and excess nutrients by 50 percent. (The Guardian)

Gender Gap

Gender employment gap costs EU 360 billion euros a year

The gap between female and male employment costs the European Union approximately 360 billion euros in losses a year, a new study has said. Italy, Malta and Greece had the worst readings with about a 20 percent gap in 2018, while Lithuania, Sweden and Finland were the best, all below 5 percent. Overall, the average figure for the bloc’s gender employment gap – including Britain prior to its departure – came in at 15 percent, according to the EU’s Eurofund agency, which tracks such trends. The total cost in losses is an estimate of foregone earnings, missed welfare contributions and public finance costs related to lower female employment, Eurofund said. The bloc’s executive European Commission will present on Thursday a new gender equality strategy for the 27 member countries, including policies to counter sex-based discrimination and improve women’s access to the labour market. (Thomas Reuters Foundation)


Image Source: yellow Volkswagen Beetle coupe by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash.