Unmasking Digital Slavery: A Study of Labour Exploitation Occurring among Taxi Drivers in the Sri Lankan Gig Economy


  • Masha Ruvishani University of Sri Jayewardenepura
  • Seshika Kariyapperuma University of Sri Jayewardenepura




As the global economy is moving towards remote access and shared workplaces, gig economy workers comprise the majority of the workforce. Organisations are opting for temporary professionals over training their own employees for specific skill sets. The purpose of this research is to explore the labour exploitation that occurs among taxi drivers in Sri Lanka’s gig economy. The present study addressed the research question of how labour exploitation occurs among taxi drivers in the Sri Lankan gig economy. A qualitative approach was used to understand the perceptions of taxi drivers in relation to the labour exploitation that occur sin the gig economy. Accordingly, an inductive approach was adopted in the study. A series of interviews were used as the research strategy. An interview guide was developed, and a semi-structured interview method was used to collect the data from the participants. Further, the study used ‘Netnography’ technique since it obtains data from social media posts such as Facebook. The participants were selected by utilising the purposive sampling method. The collected data was analysed using the thematic analysis technique. It was found that gig workers are considered people who cannot find permanent jobs and are exploited heavily by the platform organisations. Gig economy workers are faced with an unprecedented struggle due to long working hours, no job security, low pay packages, topped with less pay security, inhuman treatment by their employers and customers and absolutely no protection or rights. In order to build an economy that works for all people, “gig” and app-based companies cannot be allowed to exploit their workers under the guise of “innovation”. It was found that the Sri Lankan gig economy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Keywords: Gig Economy, Labour Exploitation, Digital Taylorism, Government Interventions, Job Security