Gig Workers’ Bill: Unions demand tweaks in representation on board, funding pattern

Joint Committee of Trade Unions and United Food Delivery Partners’ Union have submitted a memorandum

Published - July 09, 2024 10:02 pm IST - Bengaluru

The proposed Karnataka Platform-based Gig Workers (Social Security and Welfare) Bill, 2024, has five IAS officers, two workers’ representatives, two representatives from the aggregators, and one member from the civil society to be nominated by the government

The proposed Karnataka Platform-based Gig Workers (Social Security and Welfare) Bill, 2024, has five IAS officers, two workers’ representatives, two representatives from the aggregators, and one member from the civil society to be nominated by the government | Photo Credit: File photo

Suggesting changes to the proposed Gig Workers Bill, likely to be introduced in the ensuing legislature session, trade unions in Karnataka have sought equal representation on the Gig Workers Welfare Board “in the true spirit and letter of tripartism”. While the mode of raising funds for the welfare of gig workers is yet to be worked out, unions have sought not less than 1% and not more than 3% fee to be collected from every transaction to be paid by the consumer.

The composition of the board should be split equally among representatives of workers, aggregators, and the government, and that the proposed composition is lopsided in favour of the government, said a memorandum submitted to the Labour Department by the Joint Committee of Trade Unions (JCTU), an umbrella for eight trade unions, and the United Food Delivery Partners’ Unionon Tuesday.

For all stakeholders

The proposed Karnataka Platform-based Gig Workers (Social Security and Welfare) Bill, 2024, has five IAS officers, two workers’ representatives, two representatives from the aggregators, and one member from the civil society to be nominated by the government. “The civil society member to be nominated by the government again skews the board against worker representation,” said the unions. The memorandum pointed out at the Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board where there is equal representation to all the three stakeholders.

To ensure that the meetings of the board can be convened by the demand of members, the unions have said the board meetings should be convened upon a written request of one-fourth of the members instead of a written request of six members. “Otherwise, with the current composition, it may not be possible for the trade unions to force a meeting to be convened. We have also sought the meeting to be convened once in three months instead of the proposed six months. A recurring problem in the welfare board system is that executive decisions are taken by bypassing the board and ratification is done post facto. Therefore it is important for the board to have more powers, equal representation of stakeholders, and meet regularly,” a trade union source said.

Include other provisions

To ensure the rights of the gig workers are protected, trade unions have urged the government to include provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923; Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. They have also suggested changes in the registration of gig workers from the proposed 60 days to 15 days to quickly facilitate onboarding of gig workers as they are vulnerable to various occupational hazards such as poor working conditions, vehicular traffic, and inclement weather. Even the aggregator should be given 30 days time instead of 60 to register with the board, the memorandum said.

Urging the government to formulate sector-specific guidelines for the contract, the JCTU has said the contracts formulated by the aggregators should be placed before the board for prior approval and the government may review the contract templates sent by aggregators on the request of gig workers’ representatives in the board to ensure fair contracts for platform-based gig works.

On the issue of termination, the unions have said that while the Bill provides for terminating a worker with proper reasons given in writing and with prior notice of 14 days, they have said that the termination procedure should be based on the principles of natural justice. Gig workers should be provided a reasonable working condition with eight hours of work per day and any additional time should be compensated with overtime wages.

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