Image Credit: Salil Bera

Hardships: More than 67% of delivery boys in Zomato, Swiggy are Upper Caste

New Delhi: The last decade has seen an uptick in the rise of the gig economy, facilitating the rise of companies like Swiggy, Ola, Uber, Zomato, Urban Clap, Airbnb, etc. The nature of work in these companies is temporary on-demand work, with employees earning as and when they log their hours.

A TISS report surveying delivery executives across Delhi-NCR, interviewing in total, 158 delivery persons found that majority of the respondents (85.4%) were Hindus, and two-thirds of the Hindus (67.1%) belonged to the General category. Merely 1/6th (14.8%) of the respondents were from the SC/ST category. 

There report further finds that prior asset ownership-a two-wheeler and a smartphone- is a prerequisite to join the workforce. Of the respondents, 86% of SC/ST own prior assets while 85% of OBC own prior assets with merely 83% of generals owning prior assets.

Another TISS study done, surveying driver-partners in Hyderabad and Kolkata found that 80% of the interviewed driver partners were Hindus and 70% of the respondents belonged to the general category or from the forward castes.

Work conditions for employees in aggregator services are known to be strenuous with the study on online food delivery platforms found that 47% of the interviewed respondents in the full-time category, work for more than 12 hours a day, 18% from the full-time category work above 15 hours per day and 42% of the respondents who work part-time work above 12 hours a day.

Those working for 0-8 hours/ day earn between Rs. 6000 to Rs. 12000, those working for 8-12 hours/ day earn up to Rs. 25000 and those working above 12 hours earn up to Rs. 35000. Most employees are also unaware of the various methods of accessing insurance as a result of which 1 out of 29 insurance claimants from the survey sample got it.

Work condition for driver-partners is not much better with driver-partners working for more than 12 hours a day, more than 6 days a week to be able to support his/her family. This makes it difficult for the driver-partner to sustain as the pressure on him is not only physical; because he is working for more hours to earn a bit more, but wrecks havoc on him both economically and mentally. Furthermore, the driver-partners have to negotiate with abusive customers and Local Authorities (RTO/Police).

Decades of the quota-based reservation systems and systematic marginalization of forward castes from government institutions have made even the few low-paying blue-collar jobs available in the rising gig economy attractive to the growing unemployed youth. This is a worrying state of affairs as the government neither recognizes it nor corrects its course towards helping the forward castes groups.

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