A petition has been filed by "gig workers" before the Supreme Court praying for social security benefits from employers including food delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy and taxi aggregator apps, Ola and Uber.
Gig workers are independent contractors or freelancers who undertake short-term work for multiple clients. The work may be project-based, hourly or part-time, and can either be an ongoing contract or a temporary position. The number of “gig economy” contract workers has grown in recent years; and during the COVID-19 pandemic, even more workers have joined the gig economy, as those who lost their full-time jobs began freelancing to make ends meet.)
The petitioners have reasoned that they are unorganised workers under the Unorganised Workers’ Social Welfare Security Act, 2008, and are therefore entitled to social security. It has been contended that the State’s failure to register them under the Act is violative of their fundamental rights, especially since the legislation has been enacted pursuant to Directive Principles of State Policy with a view to ensure basic human dignity of the workers.
“Denial of social security to the said “gig workers” and the “platform workers” has resulted in their exploitation through forced labour within the meaning of Article 23 of the Constitution. The right to livelihood includes the right to work on decent and fair conditions of work," the plea said.
The respondent companies have been claiming that there exists no contract of employment between them and the petitioners, and that their relationship with the petitioners are in nature of partnership.
The petitioners have cited judgment of the UK Supreme Court which had held that Uber drivers are "workers" entitled to minimum wage, paid annual leave and other workers’ rights. – BENCH AND LAW