‘Gig workers’ seek statutory benefits, recognition as ‘unorganised workers’

Supreme Court asks government to respond to petition filed by a federation of app-based delivery persons

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to respond to a petition filed by a body representing app-based delivery persons seeking statutory benefits, social security rights and recognition as “unorganised workers” for them.

A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao issued notice on the petition filed by the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT), which represents ‘gig-workers’ employee by online food and taxi apps such as Zomato, Swiggy, Ola and Uber.

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“We seek a declaration that the drivers or delivery workers are actually workmen in the classical sense of the word. Worldwide for Uber they have been considered as workers,” senior advocate Indira Jaising, for IFAT, submitted. She referred to how the U.K. Supreme Court had concluded that the relationship between the online app and these workers were that of employer-employee. These workers were eligible for social security under the existing laws. “See the Unorganised Workmen Act. If you see the definition of an unorganised worker,” she submitted.

‘Unequal work conditions’

“Failure of the state to register them as ‘unorganised workers’ or to provide them social security under the existing law is violation of their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the petition stated. It argued that their unequal work conditions breached the “right to decent and fair conditions of work”.

During the hearing, the Bench referred to the Social Security Code of 2020 that delves into the rights and benefits for ‘gig or platform workers’.

The Code brings the unorganised sector, gig workers and platform workers under the ambit of social security schemes, including for their insurance and health.

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