Drawn from gig workers’ struggles, hewn in Rajasthan
The Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Act 2023 passed recently exemplifies labor laws drawing strength from past workers' struggles and adapting to new employer-employee relationships in the evolving gig economy. The act focuses on providing registration and welfare support to platform-based gig workers.
An employer cartel calls the shots
- Absence of benefits or profit-sharing: In the case of transport-based workers (Uber), the app-based aggregator connects customers with drivers, charging a commission. Workers can face digital punishment or dismissal if they don't comply with company conditions.
- Need to support through law: Companies globally have embraced market fundamentalism, evading responsibility for fair working conditions, leaving gig workers vulnerable to employer control, while the state's inadequate support reflects a lack of commitment to address the issue.
- Significant breakthrough: The Rajasthan law marks a significant breakthrough as gig workers, their unions, and civil society demanded social security rights through a welfare law, challenging companies' resistance and advocating for workers' well-being amidst exploitative working conditions and lack of support.
The hamal model
- Hamal Panchayat: Over 60 years ago, Maharashtra’s hamals formed the "Hamal Panchayat" union to address the challenges faced by unorganized sector workers, leading to the establishment of "Mathadi board" law.
- Benefits: The law mandated registration of workers and merchants using hamals' labor, requiring shopkeepers to deposit workers' wages and a levy for social security schemes with the board, providing benefits like gratuity, health, and education benefits.
- Social security: The successful implementation of this law enabled hamals to secure social security.
Enabling fair work, security
- First successful law: The Rajasthan campaign advocated for a breakthrough Act centered around social security, making it the country's first gig worker-specific social security law.
- Applied Mathadi Act: The Act applies Mathadi Act principles more accurately and efficiently to platform-based gig work.
- Progressive: This law represents an essential advancement in fair work and social security, providing a foundation for more progressive laws for gig workers.