Excel India Desk
A workshop addressing the working conditions of taxi drivers employed in various App based (platforms) was held at the Montfort Social Institute (MSI), on July 10, Monday, organised in collaboration with the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. The event aimed to shed light on the challenges faced by these drivers and advocate for their rights and well-being.
Brother Varghese, Director of Montfort Social Institute, described platform work as a new and complex phenomenon for our civilization. He emphasized the unprecedented situation where employees are uncertain about their employers, the source of their income, and whom to approach in case of issues. He stressed the need to identify and fight for the rights of platform workers, both from the platforms themselves and from the government.
Prof. Babu Matthew, a distinguished speaker at the workshop, emphasized that platforms often employ eloquent language to shift the liability of assets onto the workers. This practice places an immense burden on the drivers, subjecting them to physical, mental, and economic strain.
The workshop witnessed active participation from 20 platform workers representing well-known companies such as Ola, Zomato, Uber, Rapido, and Swiggy. Their presence lent authenticity to the discussions as they courageously shared their daily struggles and voiced their concerns.
Mohan Mani from the Center for Labour Studies at the National Law School of India University presented the findings of a comprehensive study on platform workers in Hyderabad. The report revealed major issues plaguing these workers and their profound implications for their overall well-being.
Prof. Janardhan Vellikad from the Department of Sociology at the University of Hyderabad provided valuable insights into the matter, underlining the urgency of recognizing and addressing the challenges faced by platform workers. He highlighted the far-reaching impact on their long-term health and financial well-being.
During the workshop, platform workers openly shared their daily struggles, providing firsthand accounts of the challenges they face. One recurring concern raised by the drivers was the frequent changes in incentive terms imposed by the companies, leading to confusion and frustration.
Drivers recounted instances where they experienced extended waiting periods of up to five hours without a single trip. Rubina, a participant from SAFA, aptly described the system as one designed to fail, deceive, and exploit hardworking drivers.
The workshop also highlighted the stories of veteran drivers who have been working in the industry since 1999. These experienced drivers expressed the heartbreaking reality of being forced to search for alternative professions due to the current working conditions. The increasing difficulties faced by these drivers underscore the urgency of addressing the systemic challenges faced by platform workers.
Furthermore, participants questioned the widening disparity between the rising cost of living and the decreasing ride fares. Some drivers with over 20 years of experience have resorted to selling tea or selling their cars to become drivers, only to find themselves struggling to make ends meet.
The workshop also addressed concerns about the treatment received by drivers from law enforcement authorities. Participants lamented the use of force by the police, suggesting a need for improved communication and a more constructive approach to resolving issues.
Major demands at the workshop
Minimum guarantee earnings on the platform. Social security benefits for all workers on the platform. Government contribution to social security given workers’ GST payments. Transparency in the functioning of the app. Accident compensation for both drivers and taxis. Legislation covering employment rights.
These demands represent the collective voice of the workshop participants, emphasizing the urgent need for substantial changes to improve the working conditions of platform workers. The workshop served as a platform to raise awareness and advocate for these demands, urging platform companies, government entities, and relevant authorities to take immediate action, according to a media release from MSI.