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Gig Workers’ Body Flags Safety Concerns After Online Outrage

We only want to protect those gig workers who are on the ground and might be impacted by any boycott campaigns, TGPWU’s president Shaik Salahuddin said

The boycott experience should push Swiggy to understand the plight of platform workers and the grievances of workers should be heard, the union said

Telangana gig workers union seeks better wages and working conditions as well as the right to unionise

Hours after the Boycott Swiggy campaign trended online, Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union (TGPWU) raised concerns about the safety of its drivers.

“We wanted to ensure that regardless of anyone’s opinion about the ad no gig worker is harmed. The statement is only to protect those gig workers who are on the ground and might be impacted by any boycott campaigns,” said the union’s state president Shaik Salahuddin.

His comments came right after the union put its weight behind Swiggy in a public statement. In a backhanded compliment, the union said that it understood the ‘hate-filled pronouncements’ Swiggy was going through as gig workers were themselves being discriminated by the foodtech decacorn.

Amidst all the supposed bonhomie with Swiggy, the Telangana gig workers union said that the boycott experience should push Swiggy to understand the plight of platform workers, adding that it was hopeful that Swiggy would incorporate the voice and grievances of workers.

Presenting its demands, the group added that it was seeking occupational safety, better wages, and improved working conditions as well as the right to association.

“We condemned in (the) highest words against such discriminatory social media propaganda. TGPWU hope(s) and urge(s) Swiggy for (to) immediately call for a dialogue with us where discriminatory stances of gig and platform workers can be discussed and together find an amicable solution,” the statement read. 

Earlier in the day, Swiggy was embroiled in a controversy after the picture of its billboard ad went viral, asking people not to throw eggs at each other in the veil of celebrating the festival (Holi). 

This prompted a waft of responses on social media platforms as users called for boycotting the platform and deleting the app. It was later reported that Swiggy was taking down the billboard to assuage the angry customers. 

Gig workers have been at odds with the foodtech major for a slew of reasons, including better wages and working conditions. Many such employees have banded together and launched protests across the country against the alleged exploitative policies of mobility and delivery platforms.

According to a report released in December last year, Swiggy scored 5 out of 10 points in the Fairwork India Ratings 2022 that rated startups based on the working conditions of gig workers. 

Last month, thousands of drivers of Ola, Uber and Rapido in Assam boycotted ride-hailing platforms and took to the streets to protest alleged harassment and payment issues. 

On previous occasions, the same Telangana gig workers union also sought a complete and immediate ban on bike taxi services offered by ride-hailing platforms.

India has one of the biggest labour pools for the emerging gig economy. The allure of the gig economy is that it offers an easy way to earn cash, especially for unskilled workers and those looking to earn a side income. 

The result has seen a massive boom in the gig economy space. According to a report, the homegrown gig sector is projected to grow to a market size of $455 Bn by 2024.

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