A delegation of food delivery workers in Bengaluru met Karnataka Labour Minister S Suresh Kumar on Tuesday. This is the first such representation to the state government by ‘gig’ economy workers.
The workers of the Food Delivery Partners Struggle Committee, along with members of the All India Democratic Youth Organisation (AIDYO), asked Kumar to intervene and ensure better working conditions.
In a memorandum which was submitted to the minister, the executives have asked the state government to ensure that minimum pay is set for them and benefits like accidental insurance, Employee State Insurance (ESI), provident fund and paid weekly offs are also given.
Speaking to TNM, Vinay Sarathy, vice-president, AIDYO, Bangalore Chapter, said, “The Labour Minister accepted our memorandum and promised us that he will convene a meeting with the Labour Department officials and the ‘Struggle Committee’.”
AIDYO had earlier advocated measures similar to the recent legislation passed by the US state of California, which makes it difficult to classify workers as "independent contractors" and guarantee minimum benefits.
The meeting with the minister comes after AIDYO and its parent organisation held a workers convention on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, demanding benefits like health insurance and provident fund usually associated with regular employees.
Recently these food delivery workers mostly Zomato workers across cities in India in mid-September had protested by logging out of their app over the drastic reduction of pay without any previous notice.
Delivery executives said that Zomato has reduced their per-delivery-earning, increased the number of orders that will earn them an incentive, and has also increased the kilometres they need to travel to get an additional bonus. This change in the pay structure for those working average 12-plus hours, six days a week, would mean that their monthly incomes will be halved, they said.
The workers claim the companies — Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats — get away with this by calling these workers “partners” but they are not consulted over work conditions.
The meeting with the Law Minister by food delivery partners come at a time when a section of cab drivers who are currently dependent by apps like Ola and Uber are seeking government help to become more independent.