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Kerala To Form Welfare Fund For Gig Workers 

The state government will mediate in disputes regarding wages or termination.
Kerala To Form Welfare Fund for gig Workers 

Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government plans to form a welfare fund for online delivery agents across platforms. Following a strike by Zomato agents in Thiruvananthapuram in March, the gig workers had submitted a memorandum of demands, including the formation of a welfare fund.

Subsequently, state education and labour minister V Sivankutty told the Malayalam daily Deshabhimani that the demand for a welfare fund has been under consideration adding that gig workers are eligible for job security and fair wages and the right to legal remedies as per the labour codes.

The labour department is taking action to ensure job security in the sector and the workers can file complaints to the department on disputes regarding wages or termination, Sivankutty said. The department will initiate a mediation with the employer in such cases and press for an amicable settlement protecting the interests of the workers, who can also approach the labour court or the industrial tribunal, he said.

During the March protest, the Zomato workers accused the food aggregator of indirectly forcing them to give a full-time commitment to the company without added benefits. In the strike, which lasted for a week, the delivery agents blamed the new reforms in the gig economy that slashed employee benefits even as fuel prices rocketed. Zomato’s operations in the city were severely impacted by the strike for three to five days. 

Accusing the company of trying to disrupt the protest without even acknowledging the demands, the delivery agents said that the company started paying more to the non-striking staff. Finally, Zomato paid more to the delivery agents to pacify them but only for a short time, the workers told Newsclick.

Though the strike ended because it wasn’t organised but it resulted in the unionisation of thousands of gig workers in Thiruvananthapuram. The delivery agents of Swiggy, the leading competitor to Zomato, face identical issues. Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra and others also employ hundreds of delivery agents in the state capital.

Delivery agents formed the Online Delivery Workers Union, affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. Jyothis, a gig worker and the district joint secretary of the union, said that it plans to organise delivery workers of all platforms to raise their issues, which would amplify their voice against exploitation. 

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