GIG WORKERS

The recent strike by Zomato-owned Blinkit delivery agents has once again brought to the forefront issues plaguing the gig economy in the country.

Who is a ‘gig worker’?

  • Gig workers refer to workers outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship.
  • When gig workers use online algorithmic matching platforms or apps to connect with customers, they are called platform workers.
  • Those who work outside of these platforms are non-platform workers, including construction workers and non-technology-based temporary workers.

Are gig workers employees or contract workers?

  • Whether gig workers should be categorised as ‘employees’ or as ‘independent contractors’ has been a heated debate.
  • In India, employees are entitled to a host of benefits under statutes such as:
  • the Minimum Wages Act, 1948,
  • Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (EPFA), and
  • the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965.
  • Contract labourers are governed under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and are also entitled to benefits such as provident funds.
  • Gig workers display characteristics of both employees and independent contractors and thus do not squarely fit into any rigid categorisation.
  • As a result, gig workers have limited recognition under current employment laws and thus fall outside the ambit of statutory benefits.

Proposed law

  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced the Code on Social Security, 2020 which brings gig workers within the ambit of labour laws for the first time.
  • A ‘gig worker’ is defined by the Code as a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship.
  • The Code defines platform work as a work arrangement outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship in which organisations or individuals use an online platform to access other organisations or individuals to provide specific services in exchange for payment.
  • The Code distinguishes between gig workers and employees.
  • Employees have benefits such as gratuity, employee compensation, insurance, provident fund, and maternity benefits.
  • The Code stipulates that Central and State governments must frame suitable social security schemes for gig workers on matters relating to health and maternity benefits, provident funds and accident benefits among others.
  • The Code also mandates the compulsory registration of all gig workers and platform workers to avail of the benefits under these schemes.

Concerns

Exclusion from other codes:

  • Out of the four new labour codes proposed, gig work finds reference only in the Code on Social Security.
  • As a result, gig workers remain excluded from vital benefits and protections offered by other Codes such as minimum wage, occupational safety etc.

Cannot form Unions:

  • They also cannot create legally recognised unions.
  • They remain excluded from accessing the specialised redressal mechanism under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, denying them an effective remedy for grievances against their employers.
  • Considering the non-traditional nature of their work, gig workers also do not have the right to collective bargaining.

Conclusion:

  • The government should establish clear regulations and policies for the gig economy to ensure the safety of gig workers and hold companies accountable.
  • The government should invest in education and training programmes to improve the skills of gig workers and increase their income-earning potential.
  • For gig work to provide a sustainable means of employment, ensuring stronger social security in partnership between the state and private sector and creating a bigger market for high-skill work can be important channels. 

The Golden Globe Race

A former Commander in the Indian Navy has attained another record of completing a solo circumnavigation at the Golden Globe Race (GGR), 2022.

What is GGR?

  • The Golden Globe Race is a non-stop, solo, unassisted yacht race around-the-world which was held for the first time in 1968-69.
  • The second edition of the race was held 50 years later, in 2018.

Rules:

  • The contestants would use boats designed to prescribed premodern specifications and would not be allowed to use any modern navigational gear.
  • They would have to rely entirely on sextants and paper charts.
  • Anything that wasn’t available in 1968 would not be allowed.
  • Satellite phones would be available for extremely restricted use, up to four short messages a day.
  • Use of the GPS chart plotter carried in a sealed box (for emergency) would lead to disqualification from the race.

Route:

The sailing would be along a stipulated route, rounding the three great capes:

  1. the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa,
  2. Cape Leeuwin in Australia and
  3. Cape Horn in Chile.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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