Fairwork India Project, an Oxford University entity which tracks work conditions of platform economy internationally, has expressed hope that the Zomato IPO will be a turning point on how the food delivery major engages with its delivery partners.

Low score

This comes in the background of CEO Deepinder Goyal’s response to the Fairwork India 2020 report, in which Zomato had scored low on the five gig work principles (fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation). “We knew we had things to work on, but we didn’t know there was so much room for improvement,” Goyal had said in his December 2020 tweet.

Professor Balaji Parthasarathy, Principal Investigator at Fairwork India project, and Pradyumna Taduri, Researcher at Fairwork India project, told BusinessLine that with better corporate governance kicking in post-IPO, it is hoped that Zomato will increase its focus on its engagement with its delivery partners.

Fairwork’s 2021 study on platform economy work conditions is currently underway and they have invited all gig platforms, including Zomato, to participate in the process.

In line with Goyal's 2020 tweet, Zomato announced a framework to increase women participation in the company's delivery fleet from 0.5 per cent to 10 per cent by the end of 2021.

Setting up a plan to identify and remove barriers to access for people from disadvantaged groups, such as women, was one of the points under fair management principle of Fairwork’s rating system. However, how well these policies are implemented by Zomato, is yet to be ascertained.

A BusinessLine query did not elicit a response from Zomato, till the time of going to press.

Covid impact

Covid-19 has intensified the uncertainty in the lives of gig workers including both delivery partners and ride-hailing workers. There has been an oversupply of workers due to limited job opportunities in other sectors. Even those who are employed by these companies have suffered because of the rising fuel prices.

“While petrol rates are at an all-time high in India, the earnings of platform workers have not been adjusted to account for the hike in fuel costs, borne by them,” said Shaik Salauddin, National General Secretary Indian Federation Of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT).

Companies launched crowd-funding campaigns and extended vehicle insurance coverage to compensate for the livelihood loss faced by gig workers during the pandemic. However, issues related to the lack of transparency around these funds continue.

“There is no clarity on how these funds were disbursed, who the beneficiaries were and how they were decided, what quantum of income support was provided per worker and how such an amount was calculated,” said Abhishek Sekharan, Researcher - Labour and Social Justice at Centre for Internet and Society.

However, on the positive side, several gig workers have told Fairwork India that they have been receiving free vaccinations through company vaccination drives since June 2021.