IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 8th Oct 2020
I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.– Estee Lauder
EDITORIAL HUNT #178 :“Platform Workers and The New Labour Code | UPSC“
Platform Workers and The New Labour Code | UPSC
Aditi Surie is a researcher focusing on technology and the informal economy.
Gig work and its skewed terms
The new labour codes do little to provide better pay and definitive rights to platform workers
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : Wages : DPSP : Labour
The new Code on Social Security allows a platform worker to be defined by their vulnerability — not their labour. Comment -(GS 2)
- Gig Economy
- Issues Related to Platform Workers
- Guarantees Covered in the new code.
- ESSENTIAL WORKERS : Swiggy workers have been essential during the pandemic.Even so, they have faced a continuous dip in pay and no rewards for being essential workers.
- PRESSURE GROUPS : Many platform workers have unionised under the All India Gig Workers Union and have protested day in and day out.
- CHANGING IDENTITIES : It has been truly remarkable to see the ‘food delivery’ identity being developed through collective action, just as that of Uber and Ola taxi drivers.
- STABLE EARNING : Stable terms of earning have been a key demand of delivery-persons and drivers through years of protests.
- NEW LABOUR CODES : Parliament recently acknowledge platform and gig workers as new occupational categories in the making, in a bid to keep India’s young workforce work in sectors like deliveryand digital economy.
- KEY ELEMENTS UNDER CHECK : What a platform worker is allowed to claim as rights, responsibilities and working conditions that can be legally upheld is the key question in these codes.
- CONDITIONS OF LABOUR : The specific issues of working in factories, the duration of time needed on a factory floor, and associated issues are recognised has not shifted much.
DEFINING AN ‘EMPLOYEE’
- DEFINITION : The Code on Wages, 2019, tries to expand this idea by using ‘wages’ as the primary definition of who an ‘employee’ is.
- WAGE RELATIONSHIP : The wage relationship is an important relationship in the world of work, especially in the context of a large informal economy.
- LAWS VS RIGHTS : Since the laws are prescriptive, what is written within them creates the limits to what rights can be demanded, and how these rights can be demanded
- BIGGEST CONCERN : Platform delivery people can claim benefits, but not labour rights.This distinction makes them beneficiaries of State programmes.
- LEGAL OPTIONS : This does not allow them to go to court to demand better and stable pay, or regulate the algorithms that assign the tasks.
- ASSURANCES : The main role of the laws for a ‘platform worker’ is to make available benefits and safety nets from the government or platform companies.
- CODE ON SOCIAL SECURITY 2020: The 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.
- SECURE BENEFITS : The Central government can formulate welfare schemes that cover these aspects of personal and work security, but they are not guaranteed.
- POLITICAL WILL : Actualising these benefits will depend on the political will at the Central and State government-levels and how unions elicit political support.
- LANGUAGE OF THE CODE : The language in the Code is open enough to imply that platform companies can be called upon to contribute either solely or with the government to some of these schemes.
- WORKPLACE ISSUES : The code does not force the companies to contribute towards benefits or be responsible for workplace issues.
There are no guarantees for better and more stable days for platform workers, even though they are meant to be ‘the future of work’.