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New lucrative offers for gig & blue collar workers to fill roles, Technology News, ETtech

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Illustration: Rahul Awasthi
Illustration: Rahul Awasthi

Gig workers are back in demand, although big technology firms and offline retailers are unable to fill roles quickly since many of these workers have returned to their hometowns following the Covid-19 induced economic crisis.

Open positions for gig and blue-collar staff were at 250,000 in March, but increased to 600,000 in April and currently stand at around 500,000, according to TeamLease data.

The vacant positions that companies such as Amazon, Zomato, Swiggy and PharmEasy, as well as Future group’s BigBazaar, are seeking to fill include ones in warehouse management, packaging and delivery, and for electricians, cooks, ward-boys, operations and healthcare workers.

Interestingly, these companies are offering the gig workers three-times their previous salaries and an additional 15% incentive compared to levels before the pandemic. They have also offered flight tickets and are going ahead with virtual onboarding, experts tracking the space said.

Online grocer Grofers, for instance, has hired people from industries deeply impacted by the current crisis — manufacturing, textiles and car rentals.

“We also encouraged supply chain hiring through referrals by giving bonuses to those who are referring friends and family for work and collaborated with other platforms for their delivery fleet,” said Rohit Sharma, head of supply chain at Grofers.

The demand for workers and incentives offered, however, differ across industries, the experts said.

“These workers now have ‘virtual job fairs’ wherein they can choose multiple companies to work and onboardings are done within an hour, from the earlier 15 days at least,” said Kaushik Banerjee, vice president and business head of TeamLease.

The volume of hiring, too, has largely increased.

Further, startups such as Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket, Urban Company and Flipkart, are now training these employees in soft skills virtually, in just one-three days, and have pushed the envelope with respect to workforce safety measures.

“Over the last two months, we have hired over 3,000 people for our supply chain operations, and plan to hire another 2,000 warehouse and delivery staff in the coming months,” said Sharma of Grofers.

Amazon India is offering close to 20,000 temporary jobs in its customer service department. The new positions are open in Hyderabad, Pune, Coimbatore, Noida, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Mangaluru, Indore, Bhopal and Lucknow, it said in a statement.

Background verification has also become a significant part of such onboarding and firms are doing so even if the workers are away from metro cities and are only expected to return once the situation normalizes.

“During the lockdown, we built a digital background checks service through which complete onboarding is done virtually and…in a few minutes,” said Varun Mirchandani, co-founder of background verification firm HelloVerify.

The electronic Know Your Customer forms are being undertaken through WhatsApp, emails and SMSes.

Swiggy, for instance, said its onboarding and training has gone fully digital over the last few months.

Further, onboardings are now being completed in one hour, a stark shift from the earlier process of walk-ins where the process took at least two weeks.

“We moved to 100% digital learning during the delivery partner onboarding stage by December 2019. During Covid-19, we banked on our Zero Touch Learning approach and achieved 100% of the learning interventions to be driven digitally,” a Swiggy spokesperson said.



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How Proposition 22 Blocks Cities and Counties From Giving Hazard Pay to Gig Workers

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Haney added that Proposition 22 has given gig companies legal grounds to sue and block an ordinance like this if they decide they don’t want to comply with it.

“Sometimes, as a local government, we are preempted by the states or feds, but usually when that’s the case, another regulatory body or the state Legislature is taking up the responsibility,” Haney said. “What’s the case here is that some regulations that were written into law by the companies and passed by the voters have made it impossible for anyone to provide more extensive and stronger regulations.”

Rey Fuentes, a legal fellow at the Partnership for Working Families, said California cities and counties have a history of pioneering progressive pro-worker legislation, like San Francisco’s paid sick leave program, which he said was the first of its kind in the nation.

Fuentes said it’s important for municipalities to test new policies out so that there are models for state and federal laws. “This allows for the experimentation that I think is so vital to our democracy and to developing good policy,” he said.

While grocery stores are pushing back on the hazard pay by temporarily closing locations and threatening legal action, gig companies don’t have to. Proposition 22 stops local governments from even trying to get higher wages or better benefits for gig workers, halting local experimentation with policy that could help the state’s growing number of app-based gig workers who are denied employee benefits and protections.

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UK Deliveroo riders to strike over pay, gig work conditions

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Wednesday, April 07 2021
AP

LONDON (AP) — Riders for the app-based meal delivery platform Deliveroo held a strike in London Wednesday over pay and working conditions, part of a broader backlash against one of the U.K.’s biggest gig economy companies.

Scooter and bicycle delivery riders waving flags and red smoke flares rode through the streets of Central London. Socially distanced protests were also planned in York, Reading, Sheffield and Wolverhampton to demand fair pay, safety protections and basic workers’ rights.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, which represents migrant and gig workers, expected hundreds of riders to take part.

Deliveroo said that “this small self-appointed union does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy.” Rider surveys found most are happy with the company and flexibility was their priority, the company said in a statement.

The strike coincides with the first day of unconditional share trading for Deliveroo, which went public last week in a multibillion pound stock offering that was one of Europe’s most hotly anticipated IPOs this year. However, a number of institutional investors skipped the initial public offering, citing concerns about employment conditions for riders and a dual-class shareholder structure that gives founder Will Shu outsize control.

The company, which operates in a dozen countries in Europe, the Mideast and Asia, saw its business boom over the past year because of COVID-19 restrictions that powered demand for meal deliveries. More than 6 million customers order through its app each month and the company promised some longtime riders bonuses from the IPO.

However, riders say they haven’t been sharing in the success because the company has been paying them less.

The “success they claim to have had during the pandemic was built on our backs,” said Wave Roberts, a Deliveroo rider in Reading and vice chair of the union’s couriers branch. “It’s not sustainable. It’s got to the point where they’ve hired too many people. They’ve lowered the fees too much.”

Deliveroo and other gig companies in the U.K. that rely on flexible workforces are also facing looming regulatory challenges, after the U.K.’s top court ruled Uber drivers should be classed as “workers” and not self-employed, entitling them to benefits such as minimum wage and pensions.

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For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit https://apnews.com/apf-technology

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Follow Kelvin Chan at www.twitter.com/chanman

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This story corrects Roberts’ title to vice chair of union’s couriers branch.

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