âUrban Company’s income depends on the fees charged to us. Despite this, we have been abused and exploited time and time again, âDelhi NCR’s Urban Company Partners wrote in an official list of demands. published by the All India Gig Workers Union on October 12.
The workers went on strike for “conditions of exploitation and opacity”. In the list of demands, the workers demanded a transparent commission system and more flexibility in the choice of their pace of work. In response, Urban Company decided to accommodate some of their requests.
Concert workers from Swiggy, Zomato, Ola and Uber have regularly raised their voices on the abusive working conditions in the concert economy. It was only recently that Indian home service workers began to highlight their grievances with the terms and conditions of the Urban Company.
What are Urban Company workers asking for?
Here are the main demands of the workers:
- Committee structure: âCurrently, commissions are not deducted in a transparent or rules-based manner,â the letter said. Workers demanded a tiered commission system, where UC charges fixed percentages based on order size, and no commission exceeds 20% for any transaction.
- Flexibility: The workers demanded 4 cancellations without penalty per month for all partners. They also demanded that canceling workers with 24 hours’ notice not incur any penalties. Existing workers should also be allowed to withhold their identification for personal reasons without incurring reinstatement fees or having to reopen their accounts, the workers demanded.
- Identifier blocking: The blocking of identifiers, the working period for suspensions, should be rule-based and only done after 3 serious misconduct strikes. The workers also demanded that the identity cards of colleagues that were arbitrarily blocked be reinstated.
- Anti-harassment helpline: Urban Company employees have demanded 24/7 non-automated phone support for harassment and safety issues. They also requested an internal forum to discuss issues and find solutions with managers.
- Social Security: Health and accident insurance must be provided to all UC workers.
How has Urban Company responded to these requests?
In response to questions sent by MediaNama, Urban Company shared a 12-point plan to improve working conditions starting October 14. Some important changes in the plan include:
- Removal of temporary blockages: The company has decided to remove any algorithmic blocking of workers apart from quality blocks.
- Commissions: For beauty categories, the company reduced the highest commission slab from 30% to 25%. Average commissions after this change are between 20% and 22%. In particular, the average commission is always higher than the maximum of 20% demanded by the workers.
- Reduction of penalties: The company has reduced the maximum cap on monthly penalties per partner per month to Rs 1,500, from an earlier cap of Rs. 3,000.
- SOS helpline: The company has accepted an SOS helpline dedicated to the problems encountered by the women partners.
- Dignity of work: To meet a demand from workers, the company will begin educating customers on the application to provide both water and bathroom use to workers. Customers who mistreat partners will no longer be able to use the Urban Company platform.
- Assurance: The company will set up an assistance service to facilitate the filing of claims and the reimbursement of life and accident insurance accessible to all partners. However, health insurance will only be available to certain workers under the UC Plus program.
What else did concert workers ask for in India?
Currently, temporary workers do not receive benefits under social security schemes for organized and unorganized workers. The Indian Federation of Application-Based Workers (IFAT) recently filed a petition with the Supreme Court demanding that concert workers be recognized as unorganized workers under the Unorganized Workers Act 2008, which would entitle them to the following benefits:
- Life and disability coverage
- Old age protection
- Contingency fund
- Worker’s compensation
- Educational programs for children
- Retirement homes
Current social security for temporary workers: To provide equivalent benefits to labor workers, the government designed the Social Security Code 2020. Under this code, social security schemes can be funded by the government, aggregators, state government or the CSR. However, the code has not yet entered into force.
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