Ride-hailing platforms, Ola and Uber have scored zero points in Fairwork India’s annual ratings analysing the working conditions of app-based gig workers in India.

Intracity logistics platform, Porter was also rated zero along with the ride-hailing majors.

Fairwork focuses on five principles of fair gig work: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation. This study evaluates and awards a basic and an advanced point to a platform for each principle. The maximum possible rating in the study is 10 points.

Commenting on the drop in ratings for Ola and Uber, who were rated 2 and 1 respectively in 2020, Prof. Balaji Parthasarathy, one of the principal investigators of the study, told BusinessLine , “these scores reflect the worker sentiment in both Bengaluru and Delhi. In the case of both Ola and Uber, we did get some evidence from these platforms but the evidence was not enough for us to stand behind it and give them a score of one. On the other hand, we received an overwhelming amount of worker evidence from the two cities about their various concerns.”

Further, Flipkart got the highest rating of 7 points this year, the e-commerce major was rated at 7 points in 2020 as well. Whereas, Urban Company which was rated 8, the highest point last year, has gone down to 5 points in 2021 and the second position on the table. In comparison to last year’s ratings, Zomato and Swiggy have improved their ratings from 1 each in 2020 to 3 and 4 respectively.

A bad year

“This year has not been the greatest of years for gig workers across the country, mostly because of the pandemic. It is also why the aggregate scores have declined. Also, certain sections of the platform economy were hurt even more than the others. For instance, segments like ride-hailing were hurt very hard because of lockdowns and reduced mobility in cities. Whereas other segments like grocery delivery or e-commerce delivery did much better. So there was that sort of differential impact,” Parthasarathy added.

This year, no platform scored more than seven out of the maximum of ten points, and none scored all basic points across the five principles. The Fairwork India Ratings 2021 examined 11 platforms including Amazon, BigBasket, Dunzo, Flipkart, Ola, PharmEasy, Porter, Swiggy, Uber, Urban Company, and Zomato.

Across the industry, no company has scored any point on fair representation, as platform companies remain reluctant in talking to the collective body of workers. Despite the rise in collective actions by gig workers in the country, none of the platforms studied expressed a willingness to recognise a collective body of workers.

Decline in earnings

The study noted that workers’ take-home earnings declined across all the platforms studied, due to the increase in work-related costs (such as fuel costs and commissions), decreased demand during the pandemic and platform’s cuts in rate cards and incentives.

While several platforms introduced Covid-19 safety measures, along with improvements to their insurance policies for their gig workers, only Flipkart and Urban Company were awarded the basic and advanced points under the fair conditions principle. Besides offering Covid-19-specific income protection, both platforms have also committed to compensating loss of income that would extend to situations beyond Covid-19.

Platforms fared relatively well under the fair management principle, with BigBasket, Dunzo, Flipkart, PharmEasy, Swiggy, Urban Company and Zomato all awarded the basic point. BigBasket, Flipkart, Swiggy, and Urban Company also scored the advanced point as they have now adopted policies against the discrimination of their gig workers, and have committed to regular, independent audits to ensure there are no biases in their work allocation systems.

Fairwork India 2021 ratings are produced by Fairwork India Team, led by the Centre for IT and Public Policy (CITAPP), International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIIT-B), in association with Oxford University.