Understanding Resistance of Migrant Workers in Platform Economy: A Study of Bike based Workers in Bengaluru

Anand Raj | 2024


Platform work, a non-standard form of employment, is a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). In India, 7.7 million workers are engaged in the platform economy. and more than 3.3 million people are working in the platform economy only. A large number of workers who rely on the platform economy are migrant workers. Global South countries like India, Bangladesh, and China rely primarily on domestic migrant workers who often migrate to major cities from regional areas, to provide services such as ride-sharing, food delivery, and domestic and care work. The platform economy, with its least barriers to entry, presents both new employment opportunities and novel challenges and precarity, especially for developing economies like India. Particularly in the platform economy, some scholars argue that platforms that adopt these employment arrangements perpetuate cycles of exploitation that migrant workers have previously faced within traditional labour markets. Workers are forced to work for long working hours by platform company algorithms and incentives which impacts their mental, physical and social well-being. They are confined to a loop of work and waiting for work. This blurs downtime with work time and is exhausting, transforming from an employment relationship to the commodification of labour markets. Platform economies view the human body as a machine within the supply chain. Scholars in the global north tried to understand the control and precariousness of immigrant workers through the concept of digital Taylorism and biopolitics. The invisible hand of this marketplace, contribute to the biopower of the company, making it difficult for workers to organise and resist platform companies.