Policymakers in many nations are trying to reform the gig economy. Yet regulations have a long way to go to meet the needs of growing numbers of platform-based workers.
Shaik Salauddin logs long hours. The 36-year-old freelance driver, who lives in the Indian state of Telangana, is also the national general secretary of the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT). He spends mornings and afternoons logging and investigating issues reported by fellow drivers, then drives his own cab in the evenings.
In India, as around the world, much gig work remains unstable; the lack of traditional employment protections puts gig workers on a precarious footing. Explaining the common disadvantages of gig work, Salauddin lists “not having your pension, health insurance, paid sick leave or paid holiday covered by your employer”, as well as “minimal job security with regard to redundancy packages or dismissal notice periods”.
Gig-worker organising is at a critical moment in India. In September 2021, Salauddin and IFAT filed a petition with the Supreme Court calling, among other things, for pandemic relief for app-based transport and delivery workers, who have been struggling to stay afloat. Salauddin is hopeful that India’s millions of gig workers can mobilise to exert pressure on the Indian government. The government has already approved a law that would make gig workers eligible for social security benefits, though there’s been little progress on this since 2020.