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24 Jun 2024

India: Urban Co. women gig workers protest against "horrific" work conditions, work hours & work targets; incl. co. response

Mamunur Rashid, Shutterstock

Garments workers of Stitch Well Design Limited and Apparel Stitch Limited stage a road block demonstration demanding their due wages in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 16, 2021
"When I joined Urban Company in 2019, they said it would be flexible working hours and only up to 10 hours a day. Now, they are asking us to work around 13 hours on weekends with no additional incentives. If we skip a single duty due to a personal emergency, they will block us. If our rating falls below 4.8, our IDs will be blocked"
Beautician working in Urban Company, Bengaluru

Women gig workers at Urban Company’s Bengaluru office went on strike to protest against the company's new terms of reference. The Gig and Platform Services Workers Union (GIPSWU), part of the Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers (IFAT), condemned the new policies, describing them as "horrific" and akin to "slavery-like situations" for thousands of workers.

The key issues highlighted by protesting workers included the following:

Unrealistic Performance Standards: The company mandates a minimum rating of 4.8 stars and automates task assignments. Workers claimed this is unrealistic and places them at constant risk of losing their jobs if they fail to meet the standard or if they exceed the allowed two cancellations per month.

"When they assign duties in distant places, it is very difficult for women employees to commute in Bengaluru traffic, but they will immediately block our ID if we cancel even one."
Beautician working with Urban Company

Precarious Working Conditions: Workers face account suspensions, arbitrary pay cuts, and a lack of social security benefits. These issues emphasize the precarious nature of gig work and the challenges of ensuring fair treatment in the platform economy. A GIPSWU leader stated that the 'auto assigning' job feature is subjecting partners to a situation akin to "slavery".

"Women are the most affected since they joined the platform after the promises of duties within a 5-kilometer radius, but now they are being sent far away. They need to spend more on transportation charges for commuting to work."
GIPSWU leader

Extended Working Hours: Initially promised flexible working hours of up to 10 hours a day, workers now report being required to work around 13 hours on weekends without additional incentives.

BHRRC reached out to Urban Company to get their response on status of the investigation of allegations raised by workers, actions undertaken to address them and if any remedy has been provided to them. Their response can be read in full below.

Company Responses

Urban Company View Response