Plea in SC calls for social security benefits for Ola, Uber, Swiggy and Zomato workers

A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court asking for benefits for gig workers who work at companies like Ola, Uber, Swiggy and Zomato. It also prays for the court to recognize that these companies have violated the rights of their gig workers by controlling how they use their platforms.

The plea was submitted by the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers, a union that campaigns for the rights of gig workers who work for companies such as Ola, Uber, Swiggy and Zomato, among others. Trickypedia saw a copy of the petition.

In the petition, the union argues that they fall under the definition of “unorganized workers” under India’s 2008 Social Security Act for Unorganized Workers and are therefore entitled to social security benefits. And because that hasn’t happened so far, they feel “taken advantage of”.

“The denial of social security for the said“ gig workers ”and“ platform workers ”has led to their exploitation through forced labor within the meaning of Article 23 of the Constitution. The right to livelihood includes the right to work under decent and fair working conditions, ”the plea said.

Gig workers in India have long complained of insecure incomes, low base salaries, and an algorithm that supposedly urges them to drive hundreds of kilometers a day for disproportionately little money. All of this with little to no social benefits, as is the case with gig workers around the world.

Last year India passed the Code on Social Security 2020, which promises to provide social benefits to these workers, but which has yet to be implemented.

We asked Ola, Uber, Swiggy, and Zomato for a comment and will update the story if they reply.

The union also claimed that these platform companies have complete control over how workers can use their apps, even though the relationship between them is said to be only “partners”.

“The mere fact that their employers call themselves“ aggregators ”and conclude so-called“ partnership agreements ”does not preclude the existence of a legal relationship between employer and employee; Lord and servant and worker in the sense of all applicable laws ”, it says in the petition.

The contracts, it is said in the plea, are only a means of “concealing” the true nature of the relationship between companies and their employees.

Trickypedia already has the. reported Emergency of workers working for companies like Swiggy, Zomato, Ola and Uber during the devastating second wave of the coronavirus crisis. These workers were affected by the pandemic like everyone else, but could not afford a break because their household was dependent on their income.

These companies have repeatedly claimed that they pay their workers “adequately”, but the workers have denied that claim. In August, Trickypedia skipped a Zomato supplier for a full day and found that he had an average of Rs 11,000-12,000 a month left after accounting for all expenses.

The petition was resolved by senior attorneys Indira Jaising and Gayatri Singh and submitted through attorney Nupur Kumar.

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