Raising questions of general public and constitutional importance whether: “Right to Social Security” is a guaranteed fundamental right for all working people, whether they work in the formal or informal sector, “Gig Workers” have approached the Supreme Court for Social Security benefits from food delivery apps like Zomato and Swiggy and taxi aggregator apps Ola and Uber.
The petition was filed on behalf of ‘Gig Workers’ by The Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT), which is a registered trade union and federation of unions that represents app-based transport and delivery companies. It is argued that “gig workers” and “platform workers” fall under the definition of “worker” in the sense of all social security legislation, as they have an employment relationship with the aggregators.
The petitioners have requested that “gig workers” and “app-based workers” be declared as “disorganized workers” and/or “contractors” within the meaning of Sections 2(m) and 2(n) of the Social Security Act security of disorganized workers, 2008.
“The failure of the state to register them as “disorganized workers” or to provide them with social security under the existing law is a violation of their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India (“CoI”), namely: the right to work, the right to livelihood, the right to decent and fair working conditions.It is also a denial of the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the laws, as they are in the same position as all other workers under the applicable social security laws, including the Act of 2008 thereby in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” petition mentions.
Claiming that the denial of social security to “gig workers” and “platform workers” has resulted in their exploitation through forced labor within the meaning of Article 23 of the Constitution, the petitioners have argued that,
“Gig workers” or “app workers” or “platform workers” work in what has come to be known as workers who work in the “informal economy”. The informal economy accounts for 1/3 of the Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) and 70% of employment in an average developing country. A significant number of workers, including the wage-earners and unorganized workers, work and generate value in the said economy.”
In this regard, the petitioners have also argued for the formulation of specific schemes such as health insurance, maternity benefits, pensions, old age assistance, disability benefit and completion of vaccination at Aggregator’s expense on a priority basis.
Gig workers have also appealed to Chapter IX of . in their petition “The Social Security Code, 2020” which deals with “Social Security for Disorganized Workers, Gig Workers and Platform Workers” and seeks to provide frameworks for unorganized workers to prevent recognition of gig workers and platform workers as disorganized workers in legislation from being indicative of the policy of the Center for providing them social security.
The petitioners claim that the “Code on Social Security, 2020” is not yet in force, but have also argued that these workers currently do not enjoy social security under labor law, whether organized or not.
Focusing on the allegations made by Defendant’s companies (OlaCabs, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato) that there is no employment contract between them and the Petitioners and that their relationship with the Petitioners is of the nature of a partnership, the gig workers have argued that acceptance of such claims would conflict with the purpose of social security law.
It is further stated that the surveyed companies that own the Apps exercise full supervision and control over the manner and working methods of those who are allowed to register on the said Apps.
To back up their claim, the gig workers have also stated that,
“The mere fact that their employers call themselves “aggregators” and enter into so-called “partnership agreements” does not alter the fact that there is a legal relationship between employer and employee; master and servant and worker within the meaning of all applicable laws. The said contracts are merely a means of disguising the nature of the relationship, which is de jure, and the actual relationship between employer and employee which is an employment contract.”
To argue that the Defendants’ agreement is contrary to public policy, the petitioners have argued that the said agreements are fixed-term employment contracts in the form of “take it or leave it” and that the workers who offer their services do not have a choice but to sign the agreement. the same for their livelihood.
Relying on the comments made by the UK Supreme Court, while they dismissed Uber BV’s appeal against a labor court order, the handymen further argued that the comments apply mutatis mutandis to the “gig workers” as Uber is a multinational entity. is which functions through companies located in different parts of the world, but under the same conditions with its employees worldwide.
“The terms of Uber, Ola, Zomato and Swiggy with their drivers or deliverers are almost the same,” petition continues.
In light of the above facts, the petitioners have requested the issuance of instructions to the aggregator companies to provide economic assistance to app-based workers in the form of cash transfers of Rs 1175/- per day for app-based drivers and Rs 675/ – per day until December 31, 2021, or until the time when the pandemic subsides.
Exemption for expanding the distribution of food grains under the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana to all App-based workers, regardless of whether the App-based workers have receipt cards or not, it is also prayed for.
The petitioners have also requested that financial institutions, banks or NBFC not seize and/or auction vehicles belonging to App-Based Workers for their failure to pay EMIs on their loans until the pandemic continues and financial institutions , banks or NBFC to be fined for their failure to comply with the directions in RBI circulars and the Supreme Court judgment titled Small Scale Industrial Manufacturers Association v Union of India, LL 2021 SC 175.
Business title: The Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) v. Union of India