The season of strikes is upon us. Their sufferings accentuated by the financial disruption caused due to the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery workers with Indian foodtech unicorn Swiggy went on strikes in two cities this week — Hyderabad and Noida. Their grievances were largely similar, reduction of minimum payout per order from INR 35 to INR 15, removal of performance-based monthly incentives of up to INR 5,000 and a lack of social security even as they continue to work in harm’s way, delivering orders to hundreds of customers while the pandemic shows no signs of abating.
Swiggy’s response to the grievances of its delivery workers also remains cold and distant, like the automated statement aimed to assuage, not by addressing the concerns of its workforce, but by downplaying their reservations altogether.
“Most delivery partners in Hyderabad make over INR 45 per order, with the highest performing partners making over INR 75 per order. This INR 15 is only one of the many components of the service fee,” a Swiggy spokesperson told Inc42 when asked about the workers’ strike in Hyderabad.
“Naturally, no active delivery partners in Hyderabad have made only INR 15 per order in the last four weeks. It is important to note that the service fee per order is based on multiple factors to adequately compensate our partners including distance travelled, waiting time, customer experience, shift completion and incentives. Regular competitive benchmarking shows that these are at par, if not higher than the industry standards.”
When asked about the removal of monthly incentives of up to INR 5,000 for delivery workers, Swiggy has claimed that the incentives weren’t benefiting a large section of the delivery workers. So, the company claims to have substituted those with incentives on a daily basis, not disclosing the amount which the worker stands to earn from the same.
Nevertheless, protesting workers don’t seem to agree with the company’s stance on the usefulness of the monthly incentives.
Tellingly, the company’s delivery executives have now gone on strike in three different cities in the last 30 days. Their ‘season of strikes’ began in Chennai last month when workers took to the streets to protest against low wages. A few days later, Swiggy claimed that it had had a positive dialogue with its delivery workers and that the company was back to serving the entire city of Chennai. However, if the strikes in Hyderabad and Noida prove anything, it’s that the company isn’t willing to accept the demands of its delivery executives. At least not without waiting for the entire issue to boil over, for the workers’ will to protest to die out of desperation, and the need for an income eventually forcing them to return to work.
The strikes by Swiggy’s delivery executives are only an indication of the sufferings of India’s gig economy workers. You can read this week’s The Outline by Inc42 Plus to gain a comprehensive understanding of why India’s gig economy workers are up in arms.
- Hospitality chain OYO has refuted allegations made by a Chandigarh-based businessman Vikas Gupta, who claimed that the company had abruptly terminated its agreement with him and then asked him to pay penalties.
- Ecommerce giant Flipkart is integrating digital payments giant Paytm’s e-wallet on its platform, allowing users to select the option at checkout. The move is surprising as it could have a detrimental effect on Flipkart-owned digital payments player PhonePe, which competes with Paytm in the digital payments landscape.
- Meanwhile, even as Chinese investments in India come under a heavy lens amid the border standoff between the two countries, Flipkart has raised $62.8 Mn from Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent Holdings. The Chinese company will own about 4 to 5.3% stake in Flipkart Pte, which is the online retailer’s Singapore-based holding. Though this is a small investment in the ecommerce giant, it comes as a time when the anti-China sentiment is at its peak.
- Global tech giant Apple will be launching its first online Apple Store in India on September 23 offering a full range of its products and support directly to the customers across India. The company has assured that it will offer the same “premium experience” online as it does in its brick-and-mortar stores.
- While Facebook’s India public policy head Ankhi Das continues to face the heat for failing to clamp down on hateful posts by politicians of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the company’s India vice president and managing director Ajit Mohan has claimed that content moderation on the platform is enforced by an independent team and not by the director of public policy.
- This week, Facebook also made the news when it skipped a hearing of the Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee, which is probing the social media giant’s direct or indirect hand in the Delhi Riots of February. Facebook argued that since it had already deposed before a parliamentary panel, and because the centre is in charge of the moderation of intermediaries (Facebook), so the Delhi Assembly should withdraw its summons. The Delhi Assembly committee was peeved by Facebook’s reply and said that it would issue another summons to the social media giant, as a ‘final warning’ to depose before the committee.
- After months of relative calm, cryptocurrency stakeholders were jolted out of their bliss by a source-based Bloomberg report which said that the Indian government was moving fast to ban all virtual currencies in India and that a bill for the same would be introduced in the ongoing session of the parliament. Inc42 talked to some of the stakeholders in India’s crypto industry to understand whether the speculations should be taken seriously. You can read the full story here.
Among the movers and shakers this week, ByteDance’s director of public policy, Nitin Saluja, has joined Amazon India as senior public policy manager. Also, Facebook has appointed former COO of Ola Mobility as the director of its Global Business Group.
From the funding and acquisitions corner, overall, $448.44 Mn was invested across 23 Indian startups this week, and three acquisitions took place.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of News Roundup.