Most of the couriers work under freelance-contracts, which means that they are themselves responsible for pensions, insurances and for maintaining their own bikes or cars, while having no sick pay or any guarantees against illness or accidents. More so, Foodora removed recently also the rider space, where couriers could change, warm up, eat, go to the toilet and repair their bikes. And in case you’re wondering, yes, couriers ride the year round in Finland.
Even though the couriers work under obligations equivalent to those of employees, by keeping them as freelancers Foodora externalizes risks and costs of production to them, while taking no responsibility for its workers. The Foodora couriers are no independent entrepreneurs or “delivery partners”, as Foodora puts it, in any meaningful sense of the term.
This is not something new that the so-called #gigeconomy has invented, but a return to early capitalism, where workers had no or minimal rights, benefits and guarantees. Those rights that we now take for granted were won through long struggles. So don’t let capital to circumvent them by using freelance contracts.
This not only about couriers or just about companies trying to break mutually agreed rules of employment. This is about a large legal and political-economic question of how work is organized. If one employer can externalize costs by circumventing responsibilities with forced sham entrepreneurship, others will follow. And those others are also your employers.
Because an injury to one is an injury to all.
Ex-Foodora Courier, Helsinki Bike Messenger and Postdoc Researcher Tuomas Tammisto