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Consequences of COVID19 on food delivery workers in south India


The author paints a bleak picture of the working conditions of gig workers in India whose services have become critical during the countrywide COVID-19 lockdown. The workers deliver food, medicines, and other essential items while everyone else is locked up at home.

The author who conducted a self-ethnographic research project shares both their experience and of others working as food delivery workers in south India.

On top of other risks that the gig workers already face with no social protections, the author writes that some measures instituted to protect the general public against contracting the COVID-19 virus affect the workers adversely.

“They report that even efforts taken to provide personal protective equipment to workers are inadequate. Many report they continue to purchase their own masks and gloves. Such efforts towards worker safety have also not been made mandatory or provisioned by the state, and similar stories are emerging from cities across India,” the author writes.

While the workers are putting in extra hours due to the surge in orders, they say the pay doesn’t match the work especially for those delivering the essential items.

“As one worker mentions, queuing up and picking up groceries can take 2 hours while they are paid the same as a food order which can take as little as 15 minutes,” one worker told the author.

“This, especially in a crisis is a situation ripe for necessary state intervention to impose the digital platforms to guarantee a ‘per hour pay’ structure for these workers and with mandated perks for additional risk efforts like queueing up and long-distance rides” - author.


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