Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hailed the Rajasthan government for passing a bill in the state assembly providing social security cover to gig workers in the state. The Platform–Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023, was passed in the assembly on Monday without a debate amid uproar by the opposition members in the House.
Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi, “We always stand with the poor and hardworking people” of the country and fulfil promises to them. He said the bill, the first of its kind in India, would give more than three lakh gig workers of the state their rights and self-respect.
“This law will provide financial security to the workers of the gig economy and will become the basis of reliable employment for crores of youth,” he said.
“During the Bharat Jodo Yatra, I met many gig workers, some taxi drivers, and some delivery persons – uncertain future in work, and also risky due to always being on the streets. All of them said one thing, they work hard day and night but they do not have any financial security, neither the government listens to them, nor brings any financial security, neither the government listens to them, nor brings any concrete plan for them,” the Congress leader said.
This is also being discussed in Karnataka and in the recent budget in that state, accident insurance of up to Rs 4 lakh was announced for them, Gandhi said.
The bill defines a gig worker as a person who performs work or participates in a work arrangement and earns from such activities outside of the traditional employer-employee relationship and who works on contract that results in a given rate of payment, based on terms and conditions laid down in such contract and includes all piece-rate work.
It aims to constitute a Welfare Board and to set up a welfare fund for platform-based gig workers, to register the workers and aggregators in the state and to facilitate social security for the gig workers.
A vital component of the bill is setting up a welfare board, titled The Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers Welfare Board, which will have two members each from gig workers and aggregators to be nominated by the state government besides two civil servants. The board will ensure registration of gig workers and aggregators operating in the state and establish a social security and welfare fund for gig workers. The bill states that the state government will maintain a database of the gig workers and generate a unique ID for every one of them.
The Congress-led Rajasthan government has also introduced a provision for penalties if aggregators fail to pay the welfare fee within time. The government may impose a fine which may extend up to ₹5 lakh for the first contravention and up to ₹50 lakh for subsequent contraventions.
Before bringing the bill, the state government had conducted a sample survey of gig workers that said over 50 per cent of them did not have any kind of health insurance and about 40 per cent were not covered under the state government’s accidental insurance. Most workers were from Rajasthan and there were some from other states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, a senior official said.
A bill with regards to gig workers was announced earlier this year by chief minister Ashok Gehlot during his last budget speech. The budget session was also the last of the ongoing 15th legislative assembly as the state will go to polls later this year.
He had said the ambit of the gig economy was continuously increasing across the globe, including in Rajasthan.
In Rajasthan, there are around 3-4 lakh gig workers, Gehlot had said. “But there is no social security for these gig workers by the companies. To provide support to these workers and protect them from exploitation, we are bringing a Gig Workers’ Welfare Act, under which a welfare board will be set up. A welfare and development fund of ₹200 crore will be formed,” Gehlot had said in his last budget speech.