Multi-pronged macro-economic approach needed to address to resolve the concerns faced by the gig workers, especially of low wages: Global Experts

March 15, 2024

The rise of India’s gig economy presents both opportunities and challenges, with digital platforms driving growth and innovation but also raising concerns about fair working conditions, social security, and competition. While enhancing productivity and tapping into diverse skill sets, issues such as income volatility and unfair termination highlight the need for addressing labour rights and fostering fair competition in the digital landscape. In this context, CUTS in collaboration with GIZ, Germany hosted a Roundtable to discuss these challenges in depth and the panellists made recommendations to these problems for the welfare of gig workers.

Dr. Shubhashish Gangopadhyay, Research Director at the Indian Development Foundation, emphasised the imperative for a macro-economic approach to alleviate the challenges faced by gig workers. “For a country like India, human capital remains a formidable challenge,” Dr. Gangopadhyay asserted. The gig economy, while promising, may not alone suffice to bolster the generation of human resources. “We must identify the return on investment in this sector to combat the scourge of lower wages, especially among informal workers.”

CUTS International in collaboration with GIZ, Germany and CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition organised a Virtual Roundtable Discussion titled “Gig Workers’ Welfare in India: Concerns and Solutions” on Friday, March 15, 2024. The webinar was a part of CUTS’s extensive work on Good and Better Jobs in India. Through this Roundtable both CUTS and GIZ sought to understand the current scenario of the Indian gig economy and the aspect of welfare in it.

Kicking off the event, Sarah Wagner, Project Manager at GIZ, Germany pointed out that it is important to provide information and counselling about workers’ rights and training for skill development to increase workers’ bargaining power. She presented that gig-workers across the world are facing challenges emanating from either policy inadequacies or market concentration.

Moderating the discussion, Bipul Chattopadhyay, Executive Director at CUTS highlighted the intricate intersection between law and economics in addressing the vulnerabilities of India’s gig economy. He advocated for the implementation of a robust Social Security Code to enhance job quality and working conditions for blue-collar gig workers.

Dr. Aruna Sharma, Former Secretary to the Ministry of Steel & distinguished Fellow at CUTS, called for a centralised approach through the introduction of a universal social security code. She emphasised the need for synergy between labour laws, the IT Act, and competition regulations to safeguard workers’ rights and enhance the labour market.

Industry stalwarts like Gayathri Vasudevan, CEO of LabourNet India, highlighted the onus placed on blue-collar workers to self-upskill amidst technological advancements, while Badal Malick, CBO & Co-Founder of KarmaLife AI, emphasised the financial hardships endured by gig workers, advocating for innovative solutions to empower them financially.

Bornali Bhandari, professor at National Council for Applied Economic Research highlighted the issue of no pension and no paid leaves for the gig workers. She rightly pointed out that “high income is the reason why people join the gig economy, especially the food delivery system and it is high income which forces them to leave the sector”, indicating the low entry barrier nature of the economy.

Ujjwal Kumar, Associate Director at CUTS Ujjwal Kumar, Associate Director at CUTS, drew parallels with international practices, suggesting learnings from the USFTC regarding the implications of corporate deals on workers’ welfare.

The roundtable discussion served as a pivotal platform to engage in constructive dialogue on the challenges confronting gig workers in India and explore pragmatic solutions to promote their welfare and economic empowerment. The panel rightly emphasised the necessity for a macroeconomic perspective and further research to improve conditions for gig workers. Identifying evolving trends in the gig economy and sector-specific skills is the need of the hour.

For further details, contact to:
Vijay Singh, Assistant Director
E: M: +91 – 8076619084