The co-founder of a food ordering app was held hostage for two days in its Pune office by its recently laid off employees. It is alleged that the employees were refused salaries after they were laid off in November causing them take an extreme and hostile step.
On 4th November the company announced in an official statement that it would be scaling back operations nationally. There have been two reasons cited for this. Firstly the move is been strategically done to boost and increase efficiency and productivity; secondly the processes involved are moving towards more automation, hence might not require as much human involvement. These layoffs therefore followed and have come a week after the app managed to raise Rs50 crores in capital.
The hostage situation mimics that of what happens in larger industrial setups where labour and trade unions do agitate violently against its management and where there are regulations and stringent rules that deal with layoffs and retrenchments.
The Indian Startup ecosystem, is subject to very little scrutiny at the present. The government to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship plans to introduce legislation specifically for startups, and ensure minimizing the number of clearances it requires to start a business. The SEBI too has moved to accommodate this ecosystem by relaxing its funding and listing norms. It wouldn’t be out of place to say, that startups sit uncomfortably between enterprises that require labour regulation, and a time in India when a hasty labour reform is being introduced to kick start a political vision of India.
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