Negotiation Between Urban Company Partners and Management Executives ‘Ineffective’
Bengaluru: The Urban Company workers were denied permission by the police on Wednesday to hold a demonstration outside the company office in Bengaluru, marring their plan to mobilise workers across the country against the alleged unethical practices followed by the app-based service delivery platform.
The police reportedly denied them permission on the pretext that protests in June against the company in Mumbai had turned violent. As a result, the workers decided to skip the demonstration and opted for negotiation. However, the management executives refused to receive a memorandum presented by the workers.
While the workers in Bengaluru were given an audience with the management executives, their counterparts in Mumbai were forbidden from setting foot on the premises.
The workers who are referred to as ‘partners’ by UC are not paid salaries. The company earns commissions from the services provided by its partners. The workers are being organised by the All India Gig Workers’ Union (AIGWU) with support from local political parties and NGOs.
The delegation of about 20 workers who spoke to the executives in Bengaluru was reportedly divided, and each worker was made to engage with the management on an individual basis rather than as a united group. Their primary demand was that the company unblock the IDs of partners on the app as this mechanism has been used by the UC to sack partners – devoid of any other communication. Blocking partners ensures that they cannot access new customers.
A worker who was present at the meeting said that he was disappointed with the outcome of the communication. He told NewsClick: “The management did not make any promise to us. They also refused to unblock the IDs of the workers who were blocked on the platform. We are uncertain whether our association with the AIGWU will yield any results. I hope they stay with us throughout the fight. I also want to approach local organisations, including pro-Kannada organisations to join our protests. We will send a memorandum to the labour minister and seek his intervention as well.”
The workers plan to hold another meeting to chart out the course of action moving forward.
Heavy Police Presence in Mumbai
The Urban Company partners held a demonstration outside the company office in Mumbai. Around 25 partners participated in the protest, led by the All India Gig Workers Union (AIGWU). However, they were also joined by local political organisations. Vivek Monteiro, the general secretary of CITU Maharashtra was also present.
A union member said that the management had tried their best to thwart the protest. Speaking to NewsClick, she said, “On July 10, all partners including the blocked workers received a video from the CEO, in which he promised changes on the platform. He also promised to unblock the IDs of all the partners on July 11. Several partners felt that they should wait to get unblocked rather than join the protest. Moreover, there was a heavy police presence outside the company office. In June, the UC partners had launched a protest after rumours of a partner’s suicide started doing the rounds. Some members of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had joined the protest. They entered the office and vandalised it. Due to this reason, there was heavy security presence at the office on Wednesday.”
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