The services of online shopping portals Flipkart and Myntra in Mumbai have been severely hit by an agitation of logistics staff demanding better pay and working conditions.
Over 400 delivery boys and shipment sorters working with eKart — the logistics section for the portals — have gone on strike, leaving thousands of shipments undelivered at the portals’ Mumbai offices. The agitating staff, affiliated to Maharashtra Navnirman Kamgar Sena—the trade union wing of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena— have threatened to step up their protest if their demands are not met by August 4.
The staff have stopped collecting goods meant for deliveries from Flipkart’s distribution point at Fort, Lower Parel and Tardeo. On July 28, MNS workers stopped receipt of shipments at Flipkart’s storage centre at Andheri MIDC and Myntra’s cargo facility at Vikhroli.
Maharashtra Navnirman Kamgar Sena secretary Sachin Gole said, “We demand that e-commerce retailers follow labour laws and provide schemes like Employee State Insurance. The demand extends to all e-commerce retailers.”
He added, “The toilets of these offices are in pathetic state. These delivery boys have long and erratic working hours without any overtime allowance. As incentive, they are paid Rs 3 per shipment. One can’t even buy a vada pav with that.” Gole said a meeting between the staff and representatives from the management had been fixed on August 4. “We have told them that we as a political union will not interfere in the meeting. However if they do not resolve the issue, we will have to step in.”
Avinash Kamble, the union leader of Flipkart staff, alleged that they have been “fooled” ever since they were hired. “I joined in 2011 on a salary of Rs 7,200. Till date, I have not even got Rs 3,000 as increment. At the time of joining, we are told that we have to make 30-40 deliveries a day. But, as soon as we report to work, we are asked to make 60-70 deliveries. They tell us not to come to work if we don’t fulfil out targets. We get only two sets of uniforms a year and no laundry allowances.”
Myntra’s staff union leader Nilesh Shirgavkar said: “We have no time to eat, let alone rest. When we reach office, we have to use dirty toilets.”
He added that incentives on each shipment are paid only to delivery boys who have bikes. “They tell customers that items will be delivered within a certain number of working days. But we are made to work even on weekends and government holidays. We have demanded at least three to four Sunday offs in a year and compensatory offs for government holidays.”
The striking staff said each time they approached the authorities in Mumbai with their complaints, they passed the buck to the management based in Bangalore. “The management never came forward to resolve our issues. Hence, we had go on strike. We request our customers to support us,” said Kamble.
An eKart spokesperson trashed the allegations of poor working conditions and low pay. “…we offer our delivery teams with one of the best salary and benefits structure in the industry. The amenities provided by us… are aimed to ensure the best working environment…,” said the spokesperson.
He added that the strike had been “motivated by misguided and vested interests” and added that they were making alternate arrangements to deliver the items to customers.