Labour pain

THE WEEK|April 12, 2020

Labour pain
The gig workforce, once the toast of the town, seems to have gone for a toss
ABHINAV SINGH

WHEN GAURI SHANKER, a content writer, chose to be a freelancer, he was sure that he had the best of both worlds—the freedom to work on his own schedule and a steady income. But the current lockdown has upset his plans. On the second day of the lockdown, the agency that gave him projects told him that companies had stopped content sourcing for the next few months. Shanker is now clueless about how to meet his financial commitments; he is left hoping for the lockdown to end fast and things to get better. “No one is launching new campaigns,” he said.

Most gig workers—those who work on a contract rather than permanently—in India share Shanker’s misery. Blue-collar gig workers such as Ola and Uber drivers have returned to their villages. “This situation will not change soon. It is better to be with our families than to struggle in the city,” said Ravi Kumar, an Ola driver in Bengaluru, who hails from a village near Vijayapura in north Karnataka. He does not have any plans to return to the city soon.

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April 12, 2020