Will leave no stone unturned to improve working conditions: Zomato

Topics Zomato | workers | Swiggy

File photo of Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal
Zomato co-founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal on Wednesday said the firm will “leave no stone unturned” to improve the working conditions for its employees after the food delivery firm found itself at the bottom of the Fairwork India Ratings. The rating is part of the report Fairwork India Ratings 2020: Labour Standards in the Platform Economy. It deals with platforms that offer work on-demand through apps.

“All of us here at Zomato take full responsibility for our abysmal scores in this area, and we will leave no stone unturned to perform better in these rankings next year,” tweeted Goyal. “We knew we had things to work on, but we didn’t know that there is so much room for improvement.”

Urban Company, a home services platform, tops the list of platforms studied this year, followed by e-commerce company Flipkart. Interviews with managers on both platforms revealed that the Fairwork process had provided them with new perspectives from the workers’ point of view - enabling them to reflect on their policies.

Zomato, rival firm Swiggy and ride-hailing company Uber India each scored 1 out of 10. Urban Company and Flipkart’s logistics arm Ekart scored the highest.

While the potential of high wages and short payout cycles continue to draw workers to platform work, there was insufficient evidence that workers on seven of the eleven platforms earned the minimum wage rate after accounting for costs. Urban Company, Flipkart, Grofers, and Ola were the exceptions. This highlights the need for regulation and worker consultation on the issue of wages.

Workers have little or no social security. While some platforms provide accident insurance, many are unclear of the procedures to make claims. Only two platforms (Urban Company and Flipkart) were able to demonstrate that additional measures were taken to actively improve working conditions.

With the exception of Urban Company and Google-backed delivery startup Dunzo, there was insufficient evidence that accessible, readable and comprehensible terms and conditions were available to workers. With a growing reliance by some platforms on labour recruited from subcontractors, workers were often unclear who was responsible for their working conditions and for the payment of wages.

Platform companies fared better when it came to the principle of Fair Management. However, Urban Company was awarded the point for actively blocking customers who discriminate against service providers. Also, Flipkart was awarded the point for its proactive initiatives to employ women and physically-disabled persons in its last-mile workforce.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to prominence the precarious livelihoods of all workers (platform or otherwise), this report shows that the pandemic has only exacerbated a precarity already endemic to platform work.

This is the second year of scoring platforms using the Fairwork principles in India. Last year, twelve platforms, from sectors including ride-hailing, e-commerce, food-delivery, and home services, were scored. This year, eleven platforms were scored, with nine being repeated from the first year. Data from multiple sources indicates that, as of February 2020, an estimated three million workers were registered on the eleven platforms scored this year.

The Fairwork India team is spearheaded by the Centre for IT and Public Policy (CITAPP) at the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIIT-B), along with partners at the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester. 

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel