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Is the Gig Economy in India As 'Flexible' As Advertised by Platforms?

Is the Gig Economy in India As "Flexible" As Advertised by Platforms?

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Now and again, news regarding the harsh working conditions of individuals who work for platforms like Urban Company, Zomato or Swiggy comes to light.

And recently, over 50 female partners working with home services venture Urban Company, protested outside their offices in Gurgaon on 22 December, demanding better pay, safer working conditions and social security.

However, the company responded to these protests by filing a lawsuit against these women for their “illegal protests.”

But the issue of compensation, working conditions and social welfare is not isolated to one company or one protest but its about the working conditions within the gig economy itself.

This sector is booming in India with a report by ASSOCHAM, which is a non-govt trade association and advocacy group, stating that over 130 million people are working for these platforms and that this industry will grow to $455 billion by 2024.

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And with the pandemic crippling the economy and companies trimming their staff, in the past two years, many more have turned to the gig economy as a source of employment where these platforms promise “flexibility” as opposed to traditional work systems.

But there is a dangerous flip side to working in this sector, with non-existent social security, complete lack of benefits as compared to a traditional workforce.

So with millions of workers employed in this sector, how are these constraints affecting them? And is this gig economy creating a scope for labor exploitation?

To gain an understanding of the ground reality and the problems gig workers face, we spoke to Gunjan Chowdhury, one of the protestors, about why Urban Company workers had to resort to protesting against the company.

You will also hear from Rajendra Chaddha, a former spa therapist working for Urban Company.

We also spoke to Shaik Salauddin, the National General Secretary of the Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT), Shahana Bhattacharya and Archana Agarwal, members of the People's Union for Democratic Rights, an independent organisation which defends civil liberties and democratic rights, and Vakasha Sachdev, The Quint’s legal editor, to understand how this gig economy functions and its restrictions.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Zomato   Swiggy   The Big Story 

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