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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 33, August 12, 2023

Gig-Workers Deserve Rights as Employees: CPI MP Binoy Viswam

Saturday 12 August 2023, by Binoy Viswam


Press-Release 11th August, 2023

CPI MP Binoy Viswam’s Private Member’s Resolution on gig and platform-based workers is listed for introduction in the Rajya Sabha for the 11th of August 2023, Friday. The resolution is about the insecure conditions of gig and platform-based workers resulting in financial and social anxieties in their everyday lives. The Rajya Sabha MP proposed the formation of a Gig-Workers’ Rights Act and Gig- Workers Welfare Fund to accord to them social security and rights as workers. Viswam also urged upon the government to come up with a model contract giving gig and platform-based workers the status of employees.

As per the data from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, 93 per cent of the total workforce of the country is part of the unorganised economy. Shrinking employment in the formal economy has forced people to seek employment in the informal economy for sustenance subjecting them to unequal contracts favouring the service- aggregators while creating no obligation on them for the well-being of the workers. The skewed nature of contract exposes workers to sudden changes in employment conditions with no fixed working hours. This entire system needs correction to protect workers’ rights.

The CPI floor leader urged upon the Government to formulate a Gig Workers Rights Bill with provisions for registration of aggregators and workers, unique IDs, provision of minimum wages, social security benefits and creation of Gig- Workers Welfare Fund under a Gig Workers Welfare Board. He also proposed that the Government must draft a model contract for aggregators to treat the workers as employees and offer them protection from the vagaries emanating from treating the workers as “independent contractors” or “partners”. The model contract should guarantee basic provisions of paid leaves, health insurance, EPO and ESIC coverage, work accident insurance, maternity leaves, pensions and other benefits.

Gig-workers already constitute a large portion of our workforce and considering the projections about further growth in gig employment, the Government should also make efforts to establish gig workers’ co-operatives, give access to institutional credit and grant recognition to their trade unions. The Government should also strive to put a cap on the commission charged by aggregators and put an end to arbitrary deactivation of workers IDs. If, taken into consideration and formulated, these steps would guarantee the protection to gig-workers’ rights as employees.

Speaking on the resolution, Viswam said that “Our economy worth trillions of dollars is built on the backs of the hard work put in by workers of the country. It is disheartening that a major section of them do not have any security net and is completely exposed to the vagaries of skewed contracts and algorithms. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure social and financial security for them. Government should make sure that it is not focussed on the interests of aggregators alone and should consider workers’ rights on priority. The voice of millions of workers needs to be heard in Parliament and through this Private Member’s Resolution, I have attempted to do this.”

CPI Parliamentary Office

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