The Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT), a federation of registered trade unions, on Tuesday archived a Lawsuits of public interest (PIL) before the Indian Supreme Court on behalf of gig workers demanding Social Security benefits from food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy and taxi aggregator apps Ola and Uber.
The PIL aims to state that the gig workers or app-based workers fall under the meaning of “disorganized workers” or “contractors” according to Sections 2(m) and 2(n) of the Social Security of Unorganized Workers Act, 2008. If the state does not register these workers under the said law, it would be contrary to their rights enumerated in Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to work, livelihood, decent and fair working conditions, equality before the law provide , and equal protection of laws. The petitioners further argue that the refusal of social security has led to their exploitation through forced labor in the sense of: Article 23 of the Constitution.
The petitioners seek to establish specific schemes for these workers, including benefits such as health insurance, maternity benefits, pensions, old age support, disability benefits and, as a priority, the completion of vaccination at the Aggregator’s expense. They have relied on Chapter IX of the Social Security Act, 2020 which is concerned with “Social Security for Disorganized Workers, Gig Workers and Platform Workers” and seeks to provide frameworks for Disorganized Workers to prevent the recognition of Gig Workers and Platform Workers as Disorganized Workers in legislation as indicative of policy of the Center to provide this social security. Furthermore, reliance is placed on the ruling of the British Supreme Court Uber BV vs Aslam, which stated that Uber must pay its drivers a national living wage and 28 vacation days from the moment drivers log into the Uber app and are willing and able to work. The petitioners claimed that Uber is a multinational entity that must treat all its employees worldwide under the same conditions.
The petitioners also demanded that the court instruct the aggregator companies to provide economic aid to app-based workers in the form of cash transfers of Rs 1,175/- per day for app-based drivers and Rs 675/- per day until December 31. , 2021, or until the pandemic subsides. Finally, issuing instructions to the financial institutions, banks or NBFC not to seize and/or auction App-Based Workers vehicles for their failure to pay EMIs on their loans until the pandemic continues and financial institutions, banks or subject NBFC to fines for their failure to comply with the directions in the RBI circulars and the Supreme Court ruling Small Scale Industrial Manufacturers Association v Union of India.