Bengaluru gig workers get a shot in the arm after Uber grants UK drivers labour rights | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Gig economy workers, including cab drivers, are pinning their hopes on app-based aggregator Uber’s decision to reclassify its UK drivers as workers.
Uber on Tuesday said its 70,000 drivers in the UK will be entitled to minimum wages, vacation pay and other benefits. The decision comes after the UK’s top court last month ruled that Uber drivers are to be classified as ‘workers’ and not as ‘self-employed’.
Industrial sources say Bengaluru has around 3 lakh workers in gig economy and they are working with firms like Uber, Ola, Zomato, Swiggy, Dunzo, Telyport, Rapido, Porter, Lynk, Pindrop, Amazon, Flipkart, Grofers, Jiomart, Licious and BigBasket.
Many app-based drivers in the city welcomed the UK court’s order and said the same should be implemented here as well. They say cab aggregators have been reducing incentives over the years and fuel price hike has forced many drivers to quit these platforms. Gig economy workers are also deprived of social security benefits like PF, group insurance and pension. Experts say the gig economy is largely unregulated, with drivers and delivery boys having little job security and few benefits, varying rates of incentives and targets that demand them to work for over 12 hours even without holidays.
TOI reached out to cab and food aggregators but they were not immediately available for comments.
Tanveer Pasha, a cab union leader, said: “We’ve sent a representation to the state government in 2019 on this but no action has been taken. We’re mulling approaching the high court based on this UK court order. We want a steady income instead of unrealistic incentives and targets.”
K Somasekhar, president of Namma Chalakara Trade Union, said: “Cab aggregators are hiring us as ‘partners’ and not as ‘workers’ to deny benefits. We’ll fight for the rights of drivers.”
Advocate Vinay Sreenivasa said : “When Uber is following the same model in the UK and India, they should treat their drivers as workers instead of independent contractors. Cab aggregators have the full control of giving access to the platform as well as providing incentives. The government must bring these workers under the labour laws.”
Last year, a court in France ruled that an Uber driver be considered an employee instead of a self-employed partner. European Union regulators are mulling new rules to protect gig economy workers. In South Africa, a group of Uber drivers is also planning to approach court to seek rights, including compensation, for unpaid overtime and holiday pay.
In the 2021-22 Union budget, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will set up a portal to collect information on gig workers, building and construction workers, among others. She noted that for the first time ‘Code on Social Security’ has made provision for universalisation of social security for the entire workforce, including gig and platform workers.
A study by Flourish Ventures showed drivers were the worst hit post Covid-19 and recorded 90% reduction in income, followed by workers of food delivery firms (75%) and cleaning staff (72%).

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Sagar Biswas

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