Zomato ranks worst in working conditions; CEO Deepinder Goyal vows to do 'better'

Goyal promises to right the wrongs; says Fairwork survey has hit the right spot. "All of us here at @zomato take full responsibility for our abysmal scores in this area, and we will leave no stone unturned to perform better," adds Zomato CEO

Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal

Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal assumed responsibility after a survey showed that his company had the worst working conditions among platforms offering "digitally-mediated work". Goyal said that the company takes "full responsibility" for its abysmal performance on this front and it will "leave no stone unturned to perform "better" in coming days.

The Fairwork India Ratings evaluates working conditions digital platforms provide to their delivery partners, drivers and independent contractors. The study scores them based on five principles of fair work - fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation. The companies are ranked on a scale of 10, with each aspect holding two points. This is the second year of this survey.

Zomato, along with competitor Swiggy and cab-hailing app Uber, ranked the lowest this year, scoring only 1 out of 10 points. The sole point to Zomato was awarded for paying at least the local minimum wage.

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After the survey came out, Goyal, promising to right these wrongs, said the Fairwork survey has hit the right spot. "Zomato ranked at the bottom of 2020 Fairwork India scores. We knew we had things to work on, but we didn't know that there is so much room for improvement," Goyal said in a series of tweets. "All of us here at @zomato take full responsibility for our abysmal scores in this area, and we will leave no stone unturned to perform better in these rankings next year."

Urban Company scored the most with eight points, followed by Flipkart's delivery arm Ekart with seven points. Dunzo and Grofers scored four points each, whereas Amazon (ATS), BigBasket, Housejoy and Ola scored two points each.

Fairwork noted that while the potential of high wages and short payout cycles continues to draw workers to platform work, there was insufficient evidence that workers on seven of the eleven platforms earned the minimum wage rate after accounting for costs. Urban Company, Flipkart, Grofers, and Ola were the exceptions to this trend.

The study further found that workers have little to no social security. While some platforms provide accident insurance, workers were unclear of the procedures to make claims. Only Urban Company and Flipkart were able to demonstrate that additional measures were taken to actively improve working conditions, the survey found.

Difficult to access and read and incomprehensible terms and conditions were another challenge workers engaged with these platforms faced. Involvement of subcontractors further complicated matters related to working conditions and wages. No platform was agreeable to negotiate with worker associations and unions.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to prominence the precarious livelihoods of all workers (platform or otherwise), this report shows that the pandemic has only exacerbated a precarity already endemic to platform work," the Fairwork survey said.

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