After sacking about 1,400 employees in the states of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, Reliance Retail Ltd has asked its 150-odd employees in Uttarakhand to “go on leave without pay” as the opening of the stores in the state is getting delayed due to protests from local traders and farmers.
A senior Reliance Retail official, who asked not to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the employees were sent on “indefinite” leave a month ago.
In the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, a government directive forced Reliance to shut all its Reliance Fresh stores that sell farm produce, prompting the company to fire around 1,000 employees and terminate lease agreements of commercial properties earlier this year. The government blamed Reliance for creating potential social tension in the state—a reference to protests from local traders and the farming community.
Reliance spokespersons could not be reached for comment.
Unlike in Uttar Pradesh, there is no government ban on Reliance operating its stores in Uttarakhand, but the company is “cautious” in opening the five stores in the state’s capital Dehradun, the official said. He said the company will take a call by the end of January whether to open those stores at all.
He said the company has been losing up to Rs7.4 lakh each month for several months as its original plan to open stores in September was nixed by protests and the directive in Uttar Pradesh.
“Every penny counts in a business where the margins are just 3-4%,” he said. “These are the initial loses that have to be covered.”