Maharashtra Registers First gig Worker Under Governing Board
Representational use only.Image Courtesy:Pharmatimes
In a significant development for gig workers, the Maharashtra Building and Construction Board has registered an employee of Urban Company in Mumbai.
Shakir Sheikh (25), an AC repair mechanic working in Dharavi, would have access to various social security services, such as health insurance and housing, among other benefits, reserved for board members.
The Board recognised 51 types of construction work, including AC mechanics, painters, carpenters, electricians and masons. The Board has also been trying to contact Urban Company to register itself so the company can take CESS to benefit its workers.
This could improve the working conditions of vulnerable gig economy workers, whose number has increased due to rising unemployment.
“Their jobs and wages are not fixed. The monthly income is not enough to take care of basic expenses. The social security benefits offered by the Board will provide some level of security during unemployment so that they can take care of their children’s education and other expenses,” Bilal Khan, president of Kaamghar Sarankshan Samman Sangh, told Newsclick over the phone.
Urban Company, formed in 2014, is the largest home service company in the country and has approximately 45,000 workers whom they call partners.
In 2021, more than 100 beauticians and spa attendants went on strike alleging low wages, high commissions, and unsafe working conditions. Labour rights activists have been demanding a law to ensure that the rights of these workers are protected.
Sharing his experience with Newsclick, Sheikh said, “The lockdown put me in extremely difficult circumstances. I didn’t have work for six consecutive months. I realised that financial security is a must for any working man.”
Sheikh said that Urban Company deducted a loan of Rs 5,000 he had taken as soon as he started working. “The first month’s salary was spent in returning the loan.” He added that registration with the Board has ensured that the government would be there to help workers like him in tough times.
The legal framework that outlines the gig economy has asymmetrical power relations, which gives an edge to companies to neglect workers’ rights due to the absence of accountability.
“There is no law as such for gig workers, making it very difficult for unions to fight for them,” said Siddheshwar Shukla, secretary of Rajdhani Bhavan Nirman Kamgar Union (Delhi), a construction workers body backed by CITU.
“However, we are planning to organise them under two different sections of trade unions Acts in Delhi as these workers work in dire condition and their number is growing,” he added.
Like the Maharashtra Board, “CITU plans to make a similar request for registration of independent and gig workers with the Building and Construction Board (Delhi)”, Shukla said.
Urban Company didn’t reply to Newsclick’s questions regarding its view on the recent development. The copy will be updated if the company replies.
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