Sujit Kumar Gupta, an employee with Zomato for the past two years, said while the protest was "mainly" a payment issue, it has now been highlighted as "agitation on pork and beef issue" by the media
The agitation by Zomato delivery executives in Howrah, West Bengal, may have been in the news because of its religious overtones, but it all started with a protest against dip in payment rates, according to a report by Indian Express.
A number of delivery executives contacted by the newspaper said the agitation, which started on August 5, was primarily against a dip in payment rates. The protests, however, grabbed headlines after a number of executives refused to deliver beef and pork, citing religious reasons.
Sujit Kumar Gupta, an employee with Zomato for the past two years, said while the protest was "mainly" a payment issue, it has now been highlighted as "agitation on pork and beef issue" by the media.
"When I joined work two years ago, I was assured that I will earn a minimum of Rs 4,000 per week with or without orders. We got Rs 80 to Rs 100 for each delivery. We used to get incentives. Now, we get Rs 25 per delivery," Gupta said.
"Initially, one would earn Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per month. Now, we hardly make Rs 15,000 despite working from 12 noon to midnight," he added.
"We have been complaining about the payment cuts and have been told to leave if it doesn’t suit us," Mousin Akhter, who is spearheading the protests according to the report, said.
"Then two weeks ago, our team leader held a meeting… He told us that the company is tying up with some restaurants which serve beef. The Hindu delivery executives were against this. Similarly, Muslim executives were against delivering pork items. We told the team leader that this is not possible as this will hurt our religious sentiments," Akhter added.
The issue was further politicised, according to the report, after a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was seen along with the protesters. The leader, Sanjay Kumar Shukla, is the secretary of BJP's Uttar Howrah Mandal Two, according to the report.
Shukla, however, told the newspaper that he was not protesting along with the executives "as a BJP man".
"We do not want to politicise the issue. But how can a Hindu deliver beef and a Muslim deliver pork?… This hurts a person’s religious sentiments," Shukla said.
A minister in the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led West Bengal government, Rajib Banerjee, also backed the protesters, according to the report. "The company must not force any person to go against their religion. I will look into the matter," Banerjee, who is State Tribal Development Minister, said.The delivery executives, meanwhile, will now meet Zomato officials on August 16 to find a resolution to their issues.Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, trading recommendations, equity analysis, investment ideas, insights from market gurus and much more. Get Moneycontrol PRO for 1 year at price of 3 months at 289. Use code FREEDOM.