Gig work and its skewed terms
- The new labour codes do little to provide better pay and definitive rights to platform workers
What is a gig economy?
- A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments.
- Examples of gig employees in the workforce could include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
Problems of gig workers- Example
- Swiggy workers have been essential during the pandemic but their base pay was reduced from ₹35 to ₹10 per delivery order.
- Stable terms of earning have been a key demand of delivery-persons and drivers through years of protests.
What does the new labour code offer gig workers?
- The three new labour codes passed by Parliament recently acknowledge platform and gig workers as new occupational categories in the making, in a bid to keep India’s young workforce secure as it embraces ‘new kinds of work’, like delivery, in the digital economy.
- In the Code on Social Security, 2020, platform workers are now eligible for benefits like maternity benefits, life and disability cover, old age protection, provident fund, employment injury benefits, and so on
Issues with the new codes
- Platform delivery people can claim benefits, but not labour rights.
- This distinction makes them beneficiaries of State programmes and does not allow them to go to court to demand better and stable pay, or regulate the algorithms that assign the tasks.
- Those eligible benefits mentioned above are not secure benefits, which means that from time to time, the Central government can formulate welfare schemes that cover these aspects of personal and work security, but they are not guaranteed.
- The ‘platform worker’ identity has the potential to grow in power and scope but there are no guarantees for better and more stable days for platform workers, even though they are meant to be ‘the future of work’.
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