The Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers, along with labour unions and civil society organisations made a joint submission to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

App based gig workers write to Labour Ministry
Atom Social Security Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - 18:49

An alliance of various labour organizations including the Indian Federation of app-based transport workers and trade unions have demanded the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment to make changes about certain aspects of the draft code particularly those pertaining to the welfare of the platform and the gig workers.

On November 17, the Ministry of Labour and Employment released a draft Code on Social Security Rules and has invited suggestions regarding the draft code. In response to this The Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT) along with several other organizations’ have made submissions with respect to the various provisions of the Code.

Universal social security for platform workers

In the current draft an age limit is a criterion to avail the benefits of social security and the Union government has reserved the power to impose other eligibility criteria.

IFAT has demanded that this rule should be removed, and benefits of social security must be available to all working in any of the nine classes of aggregators mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Code on Social Security, 2020 (ride sharing, food and grocery delivery, logistics, e-marketplace, professional services provider, healthcare, travel and hospitality, content and media services, and any other goods and services provider platforms). They have also submitted that though terms such as ‘Contractors’, ‘Agents’ are often used for those working in the gig economy, they should be treated as Platform Workers.

 Clarity on the Aggregators’ contribution

The current draft has indicated that the aggregator has to contribute towards the social security schemes that are framed by the government. Further clarity has been demanded on this point considering the nature of work of platform workers where they may be associated with multiple aggregators and how this and the period they work for. They argue that they work regularly or intermittently, affects the benefits received under the rules.

Further, Section 114(7)(ii) of the draft allows the government to retain discretionary powers to exempt an aggregator from contributing to the social security of platform workers. Concerns have been raised regarding this rule and clear criteria has been demanded by the federation to prevent the aggregators from evading the responsibility.

Clarity regarding National Social Security Board for Gig Workers and Platform Workers: The federation has demanded clarity on the constitution and the time frame for establishing the Board. Also, they have asked the government to prescribe a transparent process of nomination with effective representations from trade unions and workers’ organisations.

Privacy

The draft intends to create a centralized database of the workers consisting of their personal information which is done with the support of the aggregators by the state. IFAT has said that this will have serious implications on the privacy of the workers without any proper personal data protection legislation. They have demanded proper safeguards against misuse of data to ensure privacy.

Along with this, the federation has urged the government to rethink its vision of a centralized database and instead consider a federated structure of handling the data where there is more room for the workers to directly involve that allows more democratic functioning and prevents centralization of power and authority.

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