Troubled by the resurgence of Covid-induced lockdowns in the countries and a resultant fall in the earnings of food delivery workers and cab drivers, the Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) has asked the Indian government for a moratorium on bank loans till September 2021.
IFAT has also demanded that app-based transport workers should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations and that companies employing the services of such workers, such as Swiggy, Zomato, Ola, Uber and Dunzo, should cover the cost of vaccination.
The association has also asked the government to ensure that companies — those mentioned above — provide economic relief to cab drivers at the rate of INR 1,175/day and food delivery workers at the rate of INR 675/day, to compensate them for low earnings during a period of low demand.
A previous Inc42 report had detailed the anguish of cab drivers engaged with Ola and Uber, as they’ve seen their earnings decline since the Covid-19 pandemic struck India last year. Last year, drivers held protests in several Indian cities as they flagged their low wages, a reduction in daily incentives and companies charging high commissions. The rise in fuel prices since late last year has compounded the financial woes of these gig workers. This week, the price of fuel in various cities again touched record highs.
Earlier this month, Inc42 reported that Ola and Uber had lost 30,000 vehicles from their fleet since September last year due to their drivers not being able to make EMI payments for automobile loans. Food delivery workers have also reported a reduction in earnings.
Last year, Swiggy’s riders went on strike in Chennai, Noida and Hyderabad, as they complained about a reduction in their minimum wages and a withering of daily incentives.
In its letter, sent to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance, IFAT also urged the government to extend the benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana, the government’s food security scheme, to app-based contract workers.
A recent report of the Fairwork Foundation served as a severe indictment of the work conditions for gig workers in India, with Uber ranked at the bottom along with Swiggy and Zomato with a score of 1/10, while Ola tied with Housejoy, BigBasket and Amazon to score 2/10.