Race to the bottom for gig workers

A few weeks back, Mohan Mani and I wrote in The Hindu about a few aspects of work in the gig economy from our research at the Centre for Labour Studies. The article is here .

Our study estimated that the net earnings for the worker was only around 40% of the total gross earnings from delivery pay-outs and incentives, with 30% eaten up by fuel costs and another 30% on various capital costs and levies. 

The article also speaks to the discussion sparked by Zomato’s 10-minute delivery proposition. We have been studying the nature and outcome of work in the gig or platform economy. The focus is on the lower end of jobs where the tasks require very little or no specialized skills. A food delivery rider’s work is an example of this. Poor incomes and extremely strenuous work are two immediate problems for workers. Besides these, the secondary set of concerns relate to social security and the right to collective bargaining. The floor of expectation among workers in this country is so low that many would be satisfied with just better wages despite knowing that these are dead end jobs with no growth prospects.

Studying the earnings in the aftermath of Covid-19, our study finds that the work intensity (in number of hours) and ride intensity (in distance ridden per work shift) have increased. A draft of our research report can be accessed here.

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