Hundreds of delivery boys of e-commerce giants Flipkart and Myntra are on strike in Mumbai for the last ten days in protest against poor working conditions, halting delivery of thousands of packages and fuelling fears that the unrest could spread to other similar companies.
The agitation is a poor reflection of the working conditions of these workers who are lifeline of the two companies which have a thriving business and a wide network of outlets across the country. Some of the demands include availability of toilets, Sunday holiday, fixed working hours, motorcycle maintenance charge, and medical assistance in case of accident. Incidentally, Flipkart is valued at $15 billion (Rs 95,655 crores).
The worked are backed by Maharashtra Navnirman Kamgar Sena, a sister outfit of the Maharashtra Nirman Sena, which is known for its aggressive posturing and violent protests. The Flipkart management had agreed for a meeting with the workers representative on August 4, but it canceled it at the last minute. This provoked the workers to barge into the Flipkart’s Boston House building at Chakala, Andheri. They also gheraoed Flipkart’s Mumbai office in-charge for an hour.
Maharashtra Navnirman Kamgar Sena (MNKS) secretary Sachin Gole told media persons that Flipkart went back on its promise to hold talks with the workers. Gole hinted that the protest could spread across the entire Maharashtra if the matter was not resolved soon. He said delivery boys from all over the state were calling him and wanting to join the strike against the company’s anti-labour approach.
Gole claimed that Flipkart paid less than Rs 10,000 ($157) a month to its delivery boys. This was a miserable sum to survive in a city like Mumbai, he said.
A look at the demand put up by the workers showed that they have miserable working conditions and are devoid of basic amenities like washroom and fixed working hours. While they are forced to work seven days a week, they are not covered by any medical insurance in case of accident while even on duty. Demanding that they should be covered under the existing labour laws, the works are also asking for extra wages if they are asked to work for more than eight hours a day.
In a statement, E-kart, which is the in-house logistics arm of Flipkart said:
“As India’s largest e-commerce logistics force, we offer delivery teams a salary and benefits structure comparable with the best in the industry. The amenities provided by us, be it uniforms, toilets, special allowances etc, are all aimed to ensure the best working environment for these employees. This strike in two of our facilities has been motivated by misguided interests. This is not only hurting the customers but also the interest of the workers. We are ensuring alternative delivery operations to make sure that all our shipments affected by this strike are reaching the customers in the quickest possible way.”
– E-kart, Logistics arm of Flipkart
Myntra responded as follows:
“Vector is committed to providing its employees a safe and secure work environment. We have and will always continue to provide all our employees healthy and work conducive facilities, the very best across the industry. These is unfounded speculation being driven by certain vested interests attempting to misguide personnel.”
– Vector Ecommerce, Myntra’s distribution arm
THE LIST OF DEMANDS:
- Toilets in each delivery office
- Duty hours to be fixed
- Overtime allowances
- Existing shipment allowance to be enhanced
- Bike maintenance allowance to be granted
- Food, laundry allowance to be made available
- Foot delivery boys to be paid Rs 5 for shipment and Rs 10 for return shipment
- Workers to be issued company ID card
- Delivery boys to be exempted from work on public holidays
- Workers to be issued an ESIC card
- Workers to be provided uniforms<.li>
- Workers to be provided vouchers
- Sunday holiday/compensatory off
1. The conversion rate used is 1 US Dollar = 63.77 Rupees
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