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India’s largest home services provider, Urban Company, has filed a lawsuit against 50 women partners for protesting against “unfair labour practices”. The women were protesting changes in Urban Company’s policies that could negatively impact their earnings.
Ritika Krishnaswamy, a representative of the All India Gig Workers’ Union, said that the company introduced a new “subscription system”. If workers refuse to comply with this system, they can be penalised.
According to Seema Singh, who works at Urban Company as a beautician, workers will have to pay Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 under the new policy as a deposit to guarantee that they will complete 40 jobs every month. Workers will lose this deposit if they cannot fulfil all 40 jobs. “The company needs to see us as humans and reduce the minimum number of jobs to 30…We do not enjoy the benefits of a normal job, but dignity has to be ensured”, she says.
According to news reports, if the workers refuse to opt-out of this subscription system, they will be assigned the “Flexi” category by default, in which they can only work on days with high demand for services - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This severely damages their prospects of a decent monthly income. The protestors reported that, within some categories, workers are asked to offer a 10% discount to clients from their earnings.
Urban Company is treating its workers as if they were machines. The entire platform is based on gig work and their partners’ services - and they deserve so much better!
We demand that Urban Company:
Withdraw its lawsuit against the protestors, who protested peacefully and in public view
Withdraw this subscription system that punishes workers for not fulfilling an unreasonable number of jobs per month.
“Penalisation should not be used to increase workers’ productivity…The only solution in the long term I see for this is to give these women a proper employment status with all benefits,” says Krishnaswamy. Stand with the protesting partners and the All India Gig Workers’ Union - sign the petition now!