Race to the bottom for gig workers 

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News: Recently, Zomato announced its plans to deliver food to customers in 10 minutes. This has raised several questions on the nature of delivery platforms, and the impact on delivery workers. 

What are the issues with the platform industry, especially food delivery platforms? 

Platform industry is all about grabbing market share. This is done by introducing innovations to increase “efficiency”. In the case of food delivery, platform focus on cost reduction and increasing speed to boost their efficiency. Both factors impact the platform worker, or “delivery partner”. It is because both the factors will improve with reduction in the number of workers and their earnings.  

It is the delivery partner who faces the anger of the customer for late delivery. For example, customers even refuse to pay leaving the partner at the mercy of the platform. 

All costs including fuel, asset cost including cost of maintenance and depreciation, etc. are borne by the worker. It becomes serious when fuel prices have been skyrocketing 

The average earnings of delivery workers are very less. Their net earnings are only around 40% of the total gross earnings from delivery pay-outs and incentives. Out of this, 30% is eaten up by fuel costs and another 30% on various capital costs and levies. 

Serious working conditions: They work for an average 13 hours per day. They cover over 190 kilometres each day.  

Safety concerns: While working for a long hour and distance on a two-wheeler through busy city traffic, it is surely impossible to ensure delivery partner safety. 

Whether the platform owners consider “delivery partner” as a partner in their prosperity or not.  

What is the importance of the platforms?

These platforms have contributed a lot towards improvement in technology and lifestyle, particularly during the course of the pandemic. 

Way Forward 

Human involvement is also an important component in the platform industry. It provides the last link to make the platform an efficient delivery machine. This should not be ignored. 

Source: The post is based on an article “Race to the bottom for gig workers” published in The Hindu on 31st March 2022. 

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