scorecardDelivery agents, cab drivers on ride-hailing apps not making sustainable living wage, says Fairwork India report
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Delivery agents, cab drivers on ride-hailing apps not making sustainable living wage, says Fairwork India report

Delivery agents, cab drivers on ride-hailing apps not making sustainable living wage, says Fairwork India report
IndiaIndia3 min read
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  • Amazon Flex, Dunzo, Pharmeasy, Ola and Uber received zero points on all accounts of labour rights of platform economy workers in India.

  • Only three platforms – bigbasket, Swiggy and Urban Company – provide workers with a financial safety net during medical illnesses.

  • India’s gig economy is expected to expand to 23.5 million workers by 2029-30, according to a NITI AAYOG report.
Over the years, Indian digital platforms have made it very easy to get food, groceries or any product delivered within minutes. However, the ‘gig workers’ who make this possible are not making ‘sustainable local living wage’ after work-related costs, says a new report by Fairwork, which analyzes labour standards of the platform economy in India.

The report titled Fairwork India Ratings 2022 concluded that no platform could be awarded for apt representation for workers of the gig economy of India. The report analysed 12 leading digital platforms namely —Amazon Flex, bigbasket, Dunzo, Flipkart, Ola, PharmEasy, Porter, Swiggy, Uber, Urban Company, Zepto and Zomato.

The digital platforms were ranked on five counts- fair pay, working conditions, contracts, management and representation.

Only three platforms have minimum wage policies

This year, Urban Company, bigbasket and Flipkart implemented and operationalised policies to ensure that all workers on these platforms earn at least the hourly local minimum wage after factoring in work-related costs, as per the Fairwork report. Urban Company and bigbasket occupied the top two ranks in terms of ‘fair pay’ with seven and six points (out of 10) respectively. Swiggy and Flipkart received five points each. While Amazon Flex, Dunzo, Pharmeasy, Ola and Uber received no points at all.

fairwork.
Fairwork

The same three platforms — bigbasket, Flipkart, and Urban Company— scored the first point for fair pay last year, and scored a point this year too, says the report.

“No other platform publicly committed, or provided sufficient evidence, to ensure that workers earn at least the hourly local minimum wage after work-related costs. Even with workers and worker groups repeatedly emphasising the importance of a stable income for platform workers, platforms have been reluctant to publicly commit to, and operationalise, a minimum wage policy,” the report said.

While the digital platform economy offers the promise of flexibility, it raises as many questions as it offers opportunities, the report said.

Moreover, moves by workers to voice their concerns have not been met with much success. “Platforms have been uncompromisingly unwilling to recognise or negotiate with any collective body representing workers,” the report said.

And there have been many instances where workers tried to get together in protest. In November this year, workers of Amazon India participated in a strike organised by Amazon Pay Coalition, seeking fair pay and a right to join unions.

This July, the Reliance Retail-backed quick ecommerce platform Dunzo threatened to ban their employees if they went on a strike. Its delivery executives halted operations temporarily in Bengaluru in September this year.

Foodtech giant Swiggy’s workers went on a strike across Delhi, Mumbai asking for changes in pay cuts, and protesting against poor incentives and poor social safety net this July. It was also reported that Swiggy slashed prices of delivery workers from ₹30 per order to ₹20 in Bengaluru, despite rising fuel prices and increase in city congestion.

Also, only three platforms – bigbasket, Swiggy and Urban Company – provide workers with a financial safety net during medical illnesses.

“It is disconcerting that despite the rise in platform worker collectivisation across

the country, like last year, there was insufficient evidence from any platform to show

willingness to recognise a collective body of workers,” stated Fairwork India.

India’s gig economy is expected to grow leaps and bounds, expanding to 23.5 million workers by 2029-30, NITI AYOG report states. Gig jobs are broadly defined as those done by freelancers or contractors who work independently, typically on a short term basis for multiple clients. While at the top end, gig jobs include software coding and other white collared jobs, the most common ones are the blue collared jobs which include delivery agents and cab drivers.

The gig workers in the IT sector are amongst the best earners according to a Razorpay report where their average earnings are as high as ₹85,000 per month. The country is estimated to add 9 million gig jobs by 2025, according to Indeed.

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