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Article

23 Dec 2021

Author:
Ismat Ara, The Wire

India: Urban Company files lawsuit against women workers protesting policy changes they allege impacts workers' wages

"Urban Company Sues Workers for Protesting Against 'Unfair Labour Practices'. Protest Called Off", 23 December 2021

Urban Company...filed a lawsuit...against its “partners” for protesting against the company’s alleged “unfair labour practices”...

UrbanClap Technologies India Pvt. Ltd has sought a permanent prohibitory injunction from the court restraining the women from holding any “demonstration, dharna, rally, gherao, peace march, shouting slogans, entering or assembling on or near the office premises.”...

About 50 women “partners” of Urban Company’s salon and spa vertical protested outside its office...against policy changes proposed by the company that they believe will directly impact their earnings...

According to All India Gig Workers’ Union (AIGWA), the protesting women called off the protest on December 22...after the Gurugram administration imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger).

However, the workers told The Wire that they are still determined to continue the protest as it is a “big, long fight” for their dignity and safe working conditions...

AIGWA representative Rikta Krishnaswamy told The Wire that the company had recently introduced a category called “Flexi”, which involves penalising workers who refuse to participate in the new “subscription system”.

The workers are also worried that their response rates, if low, may result in lower incomes as the “Flexi” system only assigns jobs to people with quick response rates.

Seema Singh...who works as a beautician, told The Wire that under the new subscription system, the workers will have to pay a fee of Rs 3,000 (for salon prime) and Rs 2,000 (for salon classic) upfront to the company under the minimum guarantee plan to ensure that all workers complete a target of minimum 40 jobs. “If I am unable to complete 40 jobs any month, I will lose that deposit,” she said...

She also told The Wire that a worker had been penalised during the lockdown for not completing a job.

...if the worker chooses to opt out of this plan, they will automatically be put into the “Flexi” category, in which they can only work on high demand days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

The protesters also told the reporter that workers in certain categories are asked to provide customers with a discount of 10% from their earnings...

One of the workers told The Wire that they are considering fighting a legal battle over the issues, as her incomes have gone down from Rs 25,000 per month to just Rs 5,000-8,000 due to such policies.

Out of the four women who were named in the application filed by Urban Company, only one received a legal notice to appear in court...

The Wire reached out to Bhavya Sharma, associate director of PR and Communications, Urban Company for a comment, but has not received any response.