Kerala gig Workers Warn of Indefinite Strike Against Swiggy
Delivery workers affiliated with the AIGWU protest during a token strike against the Swiggy management in Thiruvananthapuram on August 22.
Swiggy workers affiliated with the All India Gig Workers Union (AIGWU) held a token strike in Thiruvananthapuram on August 22. They have been demanding the implementation of revised charges per delivery agreed upon during the historic seven-day strike held last November. The strike ended after the management agreed to pay Rs 25 for the first 2.5 km and Rs 6 per additional km after two days of talks.
Since the management didn’t fulfil the promise, tripartite talks were being continuously held as the workers approached the Labour Department. The workers were in for a rude shock as management representatives refused to attend the talks on August 5. The frustrated workers announced a strike on August 22.
Though another round of conciliation talks was held on August 21, the workers alleged that the management refused to pay as per the revised charges, forcing them to strike.
The workers marched to the office of Instamart (Setron Retail Private Limited) after the agreement arrived during the tripartite talks wasn’t implemented. The AIGWU, affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), has warned of an indefinite strike if the demands are unmet.
‘SWIGGY NOT FULFILLING THEIR PROMISES’
The workers have been paid Rs 5 per km for the first five km for each order since Swiggy began operations in Kerala in 2018. AIGWU state executive committee member Girish Chandran accused the Swiggy management of “failing to implement its promise on the revised charges”.
“The agreement was reached after two days of talks between the workers and management in the labour commissioner’s presence. Even after nine months, the management has refused to implement the promise,” he told Newsclick.
A delivery partner pays for the fuel and maintenance of his/her vehicle. “The price of petrol was around Rs 64 in 2018. The price has increased to Rs 110 now. The prices of essential commodities have also increased. A rider barely earns Rs 650-Rs 700 after working for 14-15 hours daily. Is it possible to sustain on this income after working for so many hours,” Chandran said.
The CITU and AIGWU have urged the state government and the labour department to find an amicable solution to the challenges faced by the workers.
‘EXPLOITATION OF WORKERS’
The workers also raised the “botched-up” estimates of the distance between the food pick-up and delivery points. They are paid as per the distance estimated by the software used by their delivery company.
“During most deliveries, we found the distance was reduced by, at least, 1 km. This results in further loss to the workers. This was confirmed by an official in the IT unit of the labour department. The workers are being exploited in multiple ways,” Chandran said.
The AIGWU thanked the labour commissioner for deputing employees to verify the workers’ allegations. The labour department has planned to publish a guideline for delivery platform companies within three months so that workers also get their dues.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.