The Supreme Court on Monday, December 13, sought responses from the Union government and firms including Uber and Zomato, on a plea of an organisation of transport workers serving app-based service providers seeking social security rights available for unorganised sector workers under the law. The plea by Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) has sought formulation of welfare schemes like health insurance, maternity benefits, pension, old age assistance, disability allowance and completion of vaccination at aggregators' cost on priority basis for gig workers.
A bench comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai issued notice on the petition after hearing arguments from senior advocate Indira Jaising who appeared for IFAT. Jaisingh said a declaration is sought by the drivers or delivery workers that they are workmen under the schemes of the Unorganised Workers Act and all the social welfare schemes, meant for the workers body. The benefits for workmen of unorganised sectors be made available to them as well, she said.
She referred to a judgment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and said the job contracts were analyzed and found that the persons employed with Uber were actually workmen. It was held that the contract was only a subterfuge and the real relation is that of employee and employer, she said.
Besides Uber India and Zomato Ltd, the petition has made union ministries Commerce and Industry, Food and Public Distribution, Electronics as parties.
The plea has sought a declaration that "gig workers" and "app based workers" are covered under the definition of "unorganized workers" of The Unorganised Workers Act and hence entitled for statutory welfare benefits.
"The failure of the State to register them as "unorganized workers" or to provide them social security under the existing law is a violation of their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution namely: the right to work, the right to livelihood; right to decent and fair conditions of work. It is also a denial of the right to equality before law and equal protection of laws inasmuch as they are similarly situated with all other workers under the applicable social security laws including the Act of 2008 thereby violating Article 14 of the Constitution," the plea said.