Gig Workers Spreading Diwali Cheer: Stories of Joy Without the Glare of Bright Lights!

Gig Workers Spreading Diwali Cheer: In the festive hustle and bustle of India, delivery folks are dealing with more work and longer hours without many perks. These are the hardworking individuals who bring your online purchases to your door. They spend over ten hours on the road, navigating through traffic jams, which leaves them with little time for their own celebrations.

Gig Workers Spreading Diwali Cheer: Stories of Joy Without the Glare of Bright Lights!
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They’re asking for fair pay and extra compensation as per the labor laws in India. In Delhi alone, there are 17 apps for sales and delivery services, employing a whopping 225,000 gig workers.

NEW DELHI: The new clothes you ordered, the decorations you bought online, the festival gifts you snagged at a discount—all these goodies are brought to you by people who barely have time to enjoy the festivities themselves.

Gig Workers Spreading Diwali Cheer

Meet Anand Kumari, a 45-year-old single mom of three, who starts her delivery rounds at 9 am every day. On regular days, she delivers 40-50 packages. But during festivals, especially when there are online sales, that number jumps to 50-65 packages a day. While her usual road time is 8-9 hours, during the festive rush, she often works for more than 10 hours.

“Festive season also means traffic jam season. Getting stuck in traffic means I get home to my kids later than usual,” says Kumari. And after that, she still has to tackle household chores. All this leaves her with no time to prep her house for the festivities. The only perk for the extra work is earning a bit more than the Rs 10,000-15,000 she makes every month, and maybe a box of sweets or a gift from a generous customer.

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Lalit, another delivery person, usually handles 50-60 packages a day. But during Diwali, it can go up to 100. When asked about getting a bonus for the extra work during the festival, he says, “A bonus is like a far-off dream. More info about Gig Workers Spreading Diwali Cheer Stories of Joy Without the Glare of Bright Lights!

I probably won’t even get a break during Diwali.” He recalls a time when a customer physically abused him for knocking too loudly. “I reported it to my office, but they did nothing. I wanted to go to the police, but since my earnings depend on per-day deliveries, it would have meant losing my daily incentives.”

Gig Workers Spreading Diwali Cheer Stories of Joy Without the Glare of Bright Lights!

On a Wednesday, Anil, at 31, hadn’t finished his work day by 9 pm. “During Diwali, I sometimes get home by 11 pm,” he says. “There’s pressure from my supervisor to deliver the most during the festival time.” Because of the rush, Anil hardly gets time for family and earns just Rs 12-16 for each delivery. “I only go home to eat and sleep nowadays, hoping that with the extra work, I can bring home a little extra money during the season,” he adds with a weary smile.

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Sonu is frustrated that his e-commerce company provides no support in case of accidents or emergencies. He also feels customers treat them with disrespect. The sole earner in a family of five, Sonu says, “Even a guard or a domestic worker gets some perks and perhaps gifts and tips on Diwali. For a delivery person, there are no such things.”

In Delhi, there are more than 17 digital apps offering sales and delivery services through gig workers. A report from NITI Aayog suggests that, till 2019, there were over 225,000 such workers in the city, and that number has likely increased.

Dharmendra Kumar, Secretary of Working People’s Coalition, which focuses on gig workers’ issues, points out, “During festivals, e-commerce platforms make big profits with discounts. But the delivery drivers don’t see any extra rewards. We think they should be paid overtime at double the usual rate, as per Indian labor laws.”

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