Kochi: The workers of Swiggy, the online food delivery platform, have been on an indefinite strike in Kochi since November 14. Around 5,000 delivery partners are on a logout strike demanding revision of the minimum remuneration for delivery.
The workers are demanding a remuneration of Rs 35 for delivery in a 2.5 km radius against Rs 20 for 4 km being paid now.
The workers resorted to an indefinite strike after the tripartite talks held on November 14, by the Ernakulam district labour commissioner, failed and the demands were not accepted by the representatives of Swiggy.
The delivery partners, as defined by the organisation, resorted to a token strike on October 31 to highlight their long pending demands. The workers, led by the Food Online Delivery Workers Union (FODWU) affiliated with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have announced to continue their strike until their demands are met.
‘INCREASE MINIMUM REMUNERATION’
The workers began their strike on November 14 after their demands were rejected by the management of Swiggy in the conciliation talks held by the labour officer in Kochi. The workers have been demanding to increase the remuneration which was last revised in 2018.
Speaking to NewsClick, K N Gopi, Ernakulam district secretary of AITUC, said, “After enduring enormous physical strain in more than 14 hours of work per day, the workers are unable to survive with the measly income. They take home under Rs 500 per day, which is insufficient to run a family in any city.”
Swiggy delivery workers participating in the protest held in Kochi.
“The present remuneration is very low, considering the fuel prices and the cost of living in a city like Kochi,” Sunil Kumar, president of the FODWU told NewsClick. “Around 80% of the remuneration they get for one delivery is spent towards fuel charges. What is left for the workers to feed themselves and their families?” he said.
‘INCENTIVES AND TIPS UNPAID’
The workers have also flagged issues with incentives and the transfer of tips paid to them online.
“The company is promising an incentive of Rs 300 if the executives ride for Rs 750 in a day. As soon as they reach close to achieving this amount, the workers suspect of reducing orders,” Sunil Kumar said.
The workers have alleged that the orders are frequently stopped once they drive for around Rs 650 and they receive the next orders after a couple of hours.
“Only a few workers prepared to be idle for such long hours are receiving the incentive. Most of them, despite riding for more than 10 hours, are not receiving the incentive due to the intentional reduction in orders,” Kumar alleged.
The workers have also pointed out non-transfer of tips paid online by customers to their accounts.
“A considerable section of the workforce are students working part-time to make ends meet. Considering this, the customers provide tips, most of which are not transferred to the workers immediately,” a worker told NewsClick.
The union office bearers claimed that for documentation purposes, the company pays incentives and tips only to a small section of the workers. “Similar is the case of rain charges. The customer pays the charge for food delivery during rains, but the workers receiving the same is a rarity,” Kumar said,
ENSURE A REDRESSAL MECHANISM
The demand for a redressal mechanism for the workers to address their concerns on payment-related issues also remains unaddressed. The union has alleged that only an over-the-telephone service is available for workers, instead of an offline portal to raise their concerns.
“The gig industry is now employing a large workforce of youth, including women. This industry has very little investment since the workers bear the expense for vehicles, fuel, maintenance charges, phone and internet. The companies should ensure nominal wages instead of exploiting the educated and poor workforce,” Kumar added.
The workers have decided to hold a massive march in Kochi to reiterate their demands, taking cue from the Zomato workers in Thiruvananthapuram, who won back benefits after four days of strike.