Urban Company sues its partners to protest against its subscription system
The October protests were against the policies of the Urban Company (UC), including low wages, commissions of up to 35%, poor working conditions, and monopoly labor and purchasing codes.
This time, the protests are against the subscription system and the categorization of workers by Urban Company, as highlighted in the 12-point agenda that the startup recently released.
According to one of the protesters, UC had no representation from beauticians, hair salons and spas, when drafting the 12-point agenda.
After Urban Company noted a series of changes in its partner lounge policy, some still disagreed with partners who staged another protest, starting on December 20, 2021. In an unprecedented move Urban Company filed a civil lawsuit against four of the protesters, citing that the protests are illegal.
He also asked the court to ban protesters from circulating messages on WhatsApp or social media platforms, which could damage the reputation of the startup. UC claimed that the service providers had formed a WhatsApp chat group to discuss their strikes and protests. The content of those talks showed they were trying to incite violence, the startup said.
Urban Company has sought a court injunction directing police to arrange and disperse the protesters.
Urban Company, the Delhi-based NCR-based online concert marketplace, has been the subject of controversy as several of its partners, mainly estheticians, have done in the past, and have currently staged protests outside its headquarters due to of the policies of its workers.
Previous protests – A background
On October 8, over 100 women working with Urban Company as beauticians strikes against the company in front of its Delhi-based NCR headquarters. They alleged low wages, commissions of up to 35%, poor working conditions, and monopoly labor and product purchasing codes. When asked Inc42, one of the protesters also cited heavy penalties and temporary lockdowns for poor grades, degrading grading parameters, among others.
Almost 10 days after the protest, Urban Company CEO and co-founder Abhiraj Bhal took to the media to say he was disconcerted by protests. At the same time, the startup also noted 12 points that it would undertake to ensure better transparency, working conditions and a rise in the skills of the partners.
Those included reducing commission rates from 35% to 20%, removing temporary blockages, increasing prices for customers to help partners recover better income, among others.
The Most Recent Protest – Need for a Business Model for Pro-Gig Workers
On December 20, after repeated negotiations between Urban Company and the esthetician partners failed, the latter staged a protest inside the startup’s Gurugram headquarters with the help of the All India Gig Workers Union (AIGWU ).
the Three points who were at the center of the second protest are –
- A subscription model that means beauticians have to pay 2,000 to 5,000, in a sort of token format, where the money will be refundable provided that a beautician performs the specified number of tasks
- Up to 10% discount to clients on partner fees
- Categorization of workers according to the amount of subscription fees they wish to pay to the company in the Flexi, Smart and Plus categories
Civil action calling the protests “illegal”
After the workers organized the protests, Urban Company sent legal notices to four representatives, demanding restraint on “these people.” [all protestors] organize a demonstration, dharna, rally, gherao, march for peace, shout slogans, enter or assemble on or near the office premises.
One of the workers, on condition of anonymity, said Inc42 that the startup had no representation from estheticians, beauty institutes and spas, when drafting the 12-point agenda. She added that whenever the protesters went to the management with their grievance over these three points, they were told that only a few of the partners are facing the problem, and not everyone, thus dismissing the case. .
The gig employee alleged that for estheticians, UC is not a full-time job, and categorizing them through subscription models hurts their overall earnings. It binds them by “appointments” or jobs even if they don’t have the bandwidth.
“The lawsuit, for now, is only intended to intimidate protesters,” added another worker. Along with AIGWU, protesters also launched a social media campaign, calling the trial a “shameful act” and calling on users to #BoycottCompanyUrban.
The development was first reported by Coach.