Gig workers move SC seeking social security benefits from Zomato, Swiggy, Ola, Uber

By Legal Wires 4 Minutes Read

A Petition has been filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of gig workers by the Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT), which is a registered union and federation of Trade Union representing App-based transport and delivery workers. The petition prays for social security benefits from employers including food delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy and taxi aggregator apps, Ola and Uber.

The Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT) v. Union of India

The petition has sought for declaring “gig workers” and “app-based workers” as “unorganized workers” and/or “wage workers” within the meaning of Sections 2(m) and 2(n) of the Unorganised Workers Social Welfare Security Act, 2008.

It was 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 ensuring basic human dignity of the workers.

The denial of social security to “gig workers” and “platform workers” has resulted in their exploitation through forced labour within the meaning of Article 23 of the Constitution.

The petition has also sought for the formulation of specific schemes such as health insurance, maternity benefits, pension, old age assistance, disability allowance and completion of vaccination at Aggergator’s cost on a priority basis.

The petitioners stated that 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 is in the nature of the partnership.

The petition has also relied upon the Chapter IX of “The Code on Social Security, 2020” which deals with “Social Security for Unorganized Workers, Gig Workers and Platform Workers” and seeks to provide for framing schemes for unorganized workers to aver that recognition of Gig Workers and Platform Workers as unorganised workers in legislation is an indication of Centre’s policy for providing them social security. At present these workers are not being provided with the benefit of social security under any of the labour legislations-organized or unorganised.

“The mere fact that their employers call themselves “aggregators” and enter into the so-called “partnership agreements” does not take away the fact that there exists a jural relationship of employer and employee; master and servant and worker within the meaning of all applicable laws. The said contracts are a mere device to disguise the nature of relationship, which is de-jure, and de-facto relationship of employer and worker being a contract of employment.” the petition said.

Further, it was submitted that the fixed-term employment contracts are in the nature of ‘take it or leave it’ and the workmen have no choice but to sign the said contracts for their livelihood.

The petitioners relied on the judgement of the UK’s Supreme Court which had held that Uber drivers are “workers” entitled to minimum wage, paid annual leave and other workers rights.

Legal Wires

Team @LegalWires

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