Chennai Swiggy Workers Unionise to Protest Increased Work Hours
Swiggy delivery partners address the media in Adyar, Chennai. Image courtesy: Rajalakshmi.
Chennai: Swiggy’s increased working hours without extra incentives in Chennai have triggered spontaneous protests among its delivery partners.
The online food and delivery partner’s new rules, which came into force in 23 out of 41 zones on September 19, require delivery partners to work for 18 hours instead of 12.
“The new rules were implemented in smaller zones with fewer Swiggy users. The management thinks that workers will protest for two to three days and then give up after which the rules can be implemented in other zones,” Ramakrishnan, a Swiggy partner and founder of Tamil Nadu Food and Other Products Delivery Workers Union, told Newsclick.
“Most workers believe that the Swiggy management would never compromise on its decision, and to go on a strike is a loss of income. Therefore, earlier protests always fizzled out,” Ramakrishnan added.
However, journalist Rajalakshmi said that “Swiggy workers in each area have their WhatsApp group on which they are protesting the new rules—and this is getting reflected on the ground”. For example, in Adyar zone, which has around 300 delivery partners, “several of them protested by standing outside big restaurants and not taking orders”, she added.
Two Swiggy employees stand outside a restaurant in protest in Adyar. Image courtesy: Rajalakshmi.
Another group comprising around 80 workers under the leadership of their colleague Shivakumar had approached the Swiggy head office at Nungambakkam, Chennai, for negotiation on September 19 but the talks failed.
Subsequently, the group approached the labour department. “We were asked to form a union, elect leaders and submit a petition through them. Only then it would be accepted,” the group told the media.
Ramakrishnan, who took the initiative to form the first union of gig workers in Tamil Nadu, said, “Workers are now realising the importance of a union. There is no use protesting without unionising. So far, gig workers were proud to be unorganised.”
The union have given a call to submit a memorandum urging intervention to the Chennai Collectorate on Wednesday.
NewsClick tried to contact Swiggy’s Chennai head office but we were unable to reach them.
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