ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE/ RIGHTS
- GS-2: Fundamental Rights
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Context: Recent posts on Social Media levelling allegation on Food Delivery Companies
Some of the complaints on Food Delivery Platforms like Swiggy & Zomato are:
- Low payouts
- Opaque payout calculations and alleged cheating,
- Unexplained differences in surge rates
- Order clubbing and assignments to avoid incentive pay
- Zone extensions to avoid return bonuses
- Lack of Transparency & Trust: Many of the grievances arise because of a trust deficit between the gig workers and the platforms.
- Outdated Governance Framework: India has protected workers through heavy-handed industrial regulation and labour laws, which suit the factory floor. They are irrelevant, insufficient, and ineffective in addressing disputes that originate on these platforms.
- Algorithm dependent decisions: A large component of delivery platform’s cost is gig worker fees. An analysis of the grievances suggests that many are linked to the way gig work is assigned, performed and rewarded – all of which are decided by Machine Learning (ML) algorithms that try to cut costs & maximise profits.
- Need to harness the power of technology towards improving trust between platforms and gig workers.
- Algorithm audits are one such technique, where an auditor has access to the algorithms and examine the results produced by them to expose any biases or shortcomings.
- Another technique is the use of “sock puppets” where researchers use computer programmes to impersonate user accounts. Auditors can use these accounts to identify instances where the platform algorithms produce undesirable results.
- Regulators can examine work conditions as a function of work allocation, performance, and pay related to each gig, and mandate transparency related to each of these.
Connecting the dots: