Gig workers move Supreme Court seeking social security benefits from Zomato, Swiggy, Ola and Uber

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Gig workers move Supreme Court seeking social security benefits from Zomato, Swiggy, Ola and Uber
BI India/Canva
  • The Indian Federation of App-based Transport workers (IFAT) have filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking social security benefits.
  • They demanded that gig workers should be considered as “unorganised workers”, which will make their employers liable to pay them certain benefits.
  • The lack of employment contracts between gig workers and new age platforms does not mean there is no employer-employee relationship, the petition read.
Some of India’s gig workers — associated with new age firms like Uber, Ola, Zomato and Swiggy — are seeking government intervention to help them overcome the impact of the pandemic and make their employers pay for it.

The Indian Federation of App-based Transport workers (IFAT) filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court two days ago, seeking their inclusion as “unorganised workers” or “wage workers” within the Unorganised Workers Social Welfare Security Act, 2008.

The association, in collaboration with concerned individuals and organisations, noted that the denial of social security to gig workers and “platform workers’ has resulted in their exploitation through forced labour.

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The transport gig workers, in the petition accessed by Business Insider, noted that the failure to register them as unorganised workers or provide them with social security is violating their right to life and personal liberty as well as right to equality.

They also added that app-based companies — Zomato, Swiggy, Uber, Ola and others — currently claim that they are in partnership with gig workers, therefore there is no contract of employment between the two parties. Hence, they want their hands off any responsibility or accountability over the lives and livelihood of the contractual workers associated with them.

“The mere fact that their employers call themselves “aggregators” and enter into the so-called “partnership agreements” does not take away the fact that there exists a jural relationship of employer and employee; master and servant and worker within the meaning of all applicable laws,” the petition read.

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IFAT added that the contracts were made in a way to disguise the nature of the relations between the gig workers and these apps. They also cited a recent Supreme Court ruling in the United Kingdom, which stated that Uber Drivers are in fact workers in the company and are entitled to certain benefits.

The workers’ association added that the transport gig workers in India are struggling with decreasing income, increasing fuel prices, immense pressure from loan recovery agents as well as state officials, who too are trying to make a living in this pandemic.

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