Urban Company's Women Employees Strike Work; Company Denies Exploitation Charges
Moneylife Digital Team 11 October 2021
More than 100 women working with Urban Company (UC) as beauticians went on strike on Friday against low wages, high commissions collected by the company and unsafe working conditions for them. There were messages and videos of the strike posted on social media. Urban Company also put out tweets denying the allegations of low wages and extracting high commissions from service partners.
A detailed  report from Entrackr said, "The striking women, who work as beauticians and spa workers, said that Urban Company has hiked the commissions it charges from them to as high as 35%. They also alleged that they were not offered any insurance from the company and are often assigned to work at night."
The women alleged that they were asked to purchase beauty products from the company and claimed they were significantly above the market prices. One allegation was that they are charged Rs2,000 if they completed less than 30 assignments in a month," the report says.
These women service partners want the commission charged by UC should come down to 20% from 35% at present and the company should provide them a bill for the products they buy.
In a blog post and a series of tweets the company claimed that "Urban Company partners earn average earnings of Rs280–Rs300 per hour, net of commissions, fee and all associated products and travel costs." It also offered a detailed clarification for a tweet that showed a service partner having earned a merely Rs67 because of several deductions including.
For the four orders in question delivered between 1 October and 3 October 2021, Urban Company says the customers paid Rs2,672, including safety fees of Rs196 (Rs49 per job). After removing this safety fee (which is kept by UC to provide PPE kits to partners), the total earnings were Rs2,476 (Rs729 + Rs449 + Rs799 + Rs499).
"From this amount, UC commissions of Rs390, a service charge of Rs28, and UC plus discount over and above 10% is borne by UC (opted in by the concerned partner as part of a pilot program) worth Rs117 were deducted. The partner, therefore, made Rs1,941 net of all commissions and fees for these four orders. If we further remove travel expenses and product costs, the partner's net earnings were Rs1,141 for the four jobs. Two of these four jobs were paid for online by the customer (worth Rs1,626 = Rs799 + Rs729 + safety fee worth Rs49 and Rs49. respectively). The commissions and other deductions for all four jobs were adjusted against the online payment of Rs1,626 collected for these two jobs since cash payments worth Rs1,046 for the remaining two cash jobs were kept as is by the partner," it added.
Urban Company also clarified on selling beauty products to its service partners. It says, "These products are genuine, branded and at much lower costs than the offline world, with us passing almost all the benefits of bulk procurement to our service partners (In FY2020-21, our products business was operated at near 0% net margin at a slight loss, which can be verified through our annual audited financial statements."
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