The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Fresh retail company has terminated the services of 870 employees in Uttar Pradesh in an indication that it is winding up operations in the state.
The terminations over the past few days come on the heels of the forced closure of its outlets selling fresh fruits and vegetables in Lucknow, Ghaziabad and Noida by the respective district administrations on the pretext that they were posing law and order problems.
The 870 staffers sacked include 450 in Lucknow, 340 in Meerut, 30 in Kanpur and 50 in Bareilly. The employees have been paid one month’s salary as compensation.
The company has also shifted some of its logistics and commercial staff from Uttar Pradesh to other states and more transfers are in the offing, confirmed a Reliance Fresh officer in Lucknow.
Parimal Nathwani, president, Corporate Communication of Reliance Industries, speaking to the Hindustan Times from Mumbai, however, neither denied nor confirmed any decision to pull out from the state but said, “Agar chalne hi naheen denge to phir option hi kya hai (if they don’t allow operations, what option is left)?”
Sacked Reliance Fresh employees held a demonstration in Meerut on Tuesday and later submitted a memorandum to the governor through the district magistrate, seeking justification of the state government’s decision to debar only Reliance Fresh and allow Big Bazar, Spencer’s and Subhikha to continue their retail businesses in the state. They have also asked how the setting up of Reliance Fresh outlets could lead to law and order problems when it was going to provide jobs to thousands of unemployed people?
Sanjeev Chaturvedi, head of the UP unit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), told HT that the investment inflow in Uttar Pradesh would be adversely affected if the state government sticks to its decision to close the Reliance Fresh outlets.
“The retail sector is booming across India and UP is the biggest market for retail players. It (closures) is bound to affect the state’s predominantly agrarian economy,” he said.
Dubbing the government’s decision as “unfortunate”, Sudhakar Tiwari, convenor of the PHD Chamber of Commerce (UP Chapter) told HT that it would adversely affect the entire economy of the state and nobody would like to invest in UP in future.
Reliance Fresh has already invested around Rs 500 crore in the state and had plans to invest up to Rs 10,000 crore in the next few years, generating about five lakh direct and indirect jobs in the next four years, company sources said.