Zomato food delivery partners working in Howrah, West Bengal, are on an indefinite strike protesting, stating that the company forces them to deliver beef and pork, which hurts their religious sentiments, reports ANI. The workers have reportedly been on strike for a week, according to the ANI report on August 11. Zomato said it is looking to resolve the matter but it is impossible for it to factor vegetarian and non-vegetarian preferences in delivery logistics. “Delivery partners are unequivocally made to understand the practical nature of the job as they choose to enter the workforce. All our partners understand this fully. There is a small group of partners in Howrah who have raised concerns and we are looking to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,” a Zomato spokesperson told MediaNama.

It’s worth noting that Zomato hires some delivery partners of its own, but also outsources such operations to contractors. However, MediaNama cannot independently verify whether the people protesting are contractors or Zomato employees.

Payments rolled back

Zomato has also rolled back the payments of the executives due to their demands, per ANI. A Zomato spokesperson declined to comment further on this. The protesting delivery partners have been demanding that delivery of pork and beef be banned immediately and have also asked for their salaries to be revised. According to Mint, the West Bengal government has identified the problem and will take action on this matter. Minister for Irrigation in the Government of West Bengal Rajib Banerjee has said that the company should not force any employee to go against their religion.

Allegation of protest being fake

Here’s a catch.

A Twitter user, @peeleraja, who says he has “roots in Howrah” pointed out that beef and pork are not available for delivery in Howrah on Zomato. He verified this by searching for both items with Howrah as location on the Zomato app. In both cases, the closest restaurant which had pork and beef items available were located in Park Street in Kolkata, which is 10 kms from Howrah. Zomato doesn’t deliver to such distances in any case, the user said. This leads to the conclusion that the protests are fake, and “is engineered by a group trying to stir up communal harmony in Howrah”. “I am sure beef places exist. Just not on Zomato’s delivery network,” he tweeted.

We checked on the Zomato app, and indeed the closest restaurants with beef and pork items were located in Kolkata. We weren’t able to place orders from restaurants located in Kolkata for delivery to Howrah. A Zomato spokesperson declined to comment on this detail.


Zomato’s ongoing issues

Zomato’s troubles around religion began in July when Amit Shukla, a Zomato user from Jabalpur, declined to receive his order from a non-Hindu delivery partner and also demanded a refund for the order. The company had declined to concede to his demands; to change the delivery partner and to refund, stating that the company does not discriminate between its delivery executives on the basis of their religion. Taking to Twitter, Zomato had said “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion”.