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Behind the veil of algorithms: Invisible workers

15 Dec 2021

A report on workers in 'Gig' Economy.

 

The growth of the ‘gig’ economy and ‘gig workers’ in India is a phenomenon of the last decade or so. Even though this may not be the fastest growing category of workers, still names like Swiggy, Zomato, Ola, Uber or Urban Company and Amazon are among the many companies that have come in to provide ‘services’ and ‘employment’ in the form of ‘gigs’. Some of these are off-shoots of international companies, while others are Indian.

Over the past two years there have been reports of gig workers demonstrating against their work conditions – these include the Swiggy workers’ strike in September 2020 and the Urban Company workers’ protest in October 2021. Internationally, in recent years gig workers have gone to court against some of the companies and won some rights.


What are the issues that affect gig workers and what are their struggles? It was to understand these that PUDR conducted a fact finding investigation over September-November 2021 into the working conditions, terms and issues that affect ‘gig workers’ in a few companies in Delhi NCR. The PUDR team was able to speak to workers Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, and
Urban Company; it consulted technical experts and official company publications, as well as independent academic studies and reports, examined judgments in court cases in India and abroad, and spoke to organisations attempting to mobilise gig workers across the country. The following is a report of our findings. (It may be noted here that the report is limited to the
conditions in the NCR. Names of workers have been changed to protect their identity.)

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