E-commerce platform Evaly – already riddled with controversy stemming from its inability to deliver goods to consumers and paying back merchants – is now holding its employees' jobs hostage.
At a meeting on 23 August, Evaly's Managing Director Mohammad Rassel told his staff to bring in new sellers who will provide products worth Tk50 lakh to the platform every month without any advance payment, officials at various levels in the company told The Business Standard.
Rassel also told those who cannot follow this directive to quit the company, and informed that there is no possibility Evaly will be able to pay the employees' salaries – which are due from July this year – before October or November, insiders have said.
Firmly denying such allegations, Rassel said, "I never said such things, and these claims are blatant falsehoods. Some employees have quit the company. They may have been spreading such lies with ill-intentions."
According to sources, during that meeting, Rassel mentioned that the company has no backup other than the orders received under the T-10 offer. He asked his staff not to expect any salary before October-November, and told those unwilling to work without pay to quit the company.
Addressing those planning to stay at Evaly, the managing director instructed them to bring in new sellers to fulfill the monthly product quota, but without paying the merchants in advance.
Rassel had told his section chiefs that there is a slim chance salaries will be paid in the next two-three months in another meeting on 19 August.
Discussing the matter, a company official said, "Evaly paid the salary for June to its junior employees in July, but senior officials did not receive anything. Besides, no one has received their salary for July."
No service benefits for those quitting
On 11 August, the company's Human Resources Department sent an email to all employees informing them that they will not receive full salaries. The HR had also asked the staff to mail them back with information regarding how much they need on an emergency basis.
Though everyone at the company emailed the HR back, no one has received any money so far, several officials said.
Commenting on this, Rassel said, "Evaly employees – including me – received their salary for May in June. Some employees received full salary and some received partial pay for June in July. But I and every senior official did not take our salaries for June."
The managing director denied saying Evaly will not be able to pay employees' salaries before October-November. "But we are not solvent enough to pay service benefits to those who have quit the company. We told them that they will get their money later," he added.
Speaking to The Business Standard, a former department chief at Evaly said, "There are cases where an employee brought a seller through their personal contact, but the company never paid the merchant.
"The sellers then start putting pressure on the employees who contacted them. Many Evaly staff received threats at their homes too. Under such circumstances, it is not possible for anyone to bring new sellers to the company. Unable to continue further, many are quitting."
The Evaly HR department had told the employees that there is no chance of salary disbursement before October-November, insiders said, adding that people who recently tendered their resignation, got fired immediately without receiving any service benefits.
Echoing the same, an Evaly official said, "I did not receive any salary in the last two months, and I do not want to work without pay for the next three-four months for get my arrears. So, I am quitting the company soon."
Insiders at the company reveal that Evaly's Managing Director Mohammad Rassel took his salary of Tk4.5 lakh on 5 June. Besides, he took full salary and the same amount in festival bonus during the Eid-al-Fitr season in April.
Rassel also transferred Tk50,000 to his salary account as overtime pay during Eid holidays.
"We are letting some employees go to cut back on operating costs," Rassel said, adding, "We are firing no one. Many employees ask for timely disbursement of salary, but we are currently incapable of providing it. So they are leaving, and we cannot retain them."
Internal WhatsApp groups deleted
Evaly officials had a number of WhatsApp groups to facilitate internal communication – such as All Employees Group, Team Group and Offer Group. Besides, every department had their own separate WhatsApp groups too.
Officials used some of these groups to transfer data about company transactions – mostly in MS Excel format. The company management recently forced officials to delete such groups without mentioning a proper reason to do so.
An Evaly official said, "On 19 August, Evaly Chairman Shamima Nasrin asked officials concerned to delete the internal WhatsApp groups without warning, and demanded screenshots as proof. We then complied with her directive.
"Shamima then asked us to open new WhatsApp groups, and we did so. We think the company suddenly made us delete the groups so that no financial data can remain in the hands of the employees."
Admitting that the company's internal WhatsApp groups have been deleted, Mohammad Rassel said, "Many former employees were in those groups, so we deleted the old groups and created several new ones."