The question now becomes whether we will see some kind of a change. We know government policy is focussed on giving more surety to gig workers. We know that is under the works. There is a case in the Supreme Court right now to recognise them as unorganised workers. There are reports that the state of Rajasthan is looking for new laws for gig workers. Do you think that things will change once they are no longer in a legal grey zone as far as their identity is concerned?
I think the number of gig workers in our economy has been on the rise and possibly very soon we will see some regulations which are coming in and this could mutually help both sides in getting more clarity.
And secondly, about the rights of the employer or the company which uses these gig workers. Having said that, I think in the long term, for every organisation to really build a sustainable business it needs to retain its people irrespective of what kind of employment patterns that they use. The perception in the talent market about an employer needs to be positive.People come to work in an organisation when the organisation follows high levels of ethics, is attractive as an employer, and is paying fairly.
So, I think these are some of these long-term issues which are linked here. We all know that in the startup ecosystem, organisations are today under various kinds of pressures.
So, this could be a little bit of a short-term measure that the company has taken to sort of drop the prices unanimously. As a result, a lot of gig workers are unhappy about it. And possibly there is someone else in the market who is willing to compensate them at a higher rate. So, gig workers naturally will go out. So, in this process, one organisation loses out in terms of its employer brand. I see this about four issues connected with this.
The question is do companies need to hold on to these employees if they are in the nature of gig work because while in this particular case, in the case of Blinkit, while some have found other jobs, even the company has found other delivery partners. They, in fact, froze out those that were not on board. This is a country with a large number of people. You might always find someone to do the job. Are trained delivery partners to your specific kind of service that easily replaceable?
Theoretically one can say that this is a very simple job and one can replace this. However, being in the recruitment industry, we know that every job has its own nuances. Nothing like a tenured employee. Of course, the utility value of an employee versus the costs that one incurs comes down over a period of time, but you cannot really run an organisation with people just coming and going even if they are gig workers.
In the short run, Blinkit might have found replacement. However, it will take its own time to align the resources, teach them about how delivery is done in Blinkit and some do’s and don’ts. It consumes energy of the organisation and it is a cost which is hidden. So, I think in the longer term, this could be, of course, a crisis and that is how they have dealt with this crisis. But in the longer term, every organisation has to figure out a way of really building partnership, building some kind of a relationship with its employees, even if they are gig workers, that is what I feel.
One way or the other, squeezing out the gig worker to protect margins, is that sustainable? I am not saying is it right, is it wrong, business model, etc. Is it sustainable for any business that wants to actually compete even on the basis of quality of service?
Absolutely not. You cannot keep on squeezing the delivery worker, the gig worker, just for profitability. But having said that, let me also mention that this gig economy is something which is very new in India and I think the players are trying to figure it out.
Some of these very established organisations. Actually, gig worker and the employer relationship is something similar. So very established organisations have got very evolved practices of engaging with the supplier, engaging with the vendor and developing the vendor. In my opinion, organisations, these e-commerce players and many others who are using gig workers, they have to understand this whole concept of partnering with gig workers and really be concerned about their welfare because no business can be a sustainable long-term business without all its stakeholders seeing value for themselves.
So, it is not only the owners of the company who have to see profit, it is also the customer who has to see value, the employee who has to find the employer attractive and business ethics and all of that and similarly the suppliers and the business partners, government and society, all the stakeholders of a business need to see value for themselves. So, it is for social good that gig economy exists and it must be promoted. The way it needs to be promoted, there has to be certain framework which the government can define and all of us must contribute.