Justice4Couriers campaign member and Foodora Rider Captain Marcus Nicolson appears in this video alongside Chris Fear and more international couriers at the Alter Summit meeting last week in Brussels explaining why couriers are standing up for their rights!
PS: Foodora pays it’s Freelancers an hourly wage of 7 euros an hour not 7.60 as stated in the video!
Foodora sent recently an email to its couriers and drivers noting that, because of “feedback”, that is, due to our campaign, Foodora will pay a monthly winter bonus from November to February of 50 euros to those who work over 30 hours and of 100 euros to those who work over 60 hours a month. Foodora also says it will start looking for social spaces for its riders.
We are pleased that Foodora intends to take action
regarding the bad working conditions of its freelance couriers. We want
to point out that the monthly bonus does not cover the loss of parking
provisions and km allowances for drivers. Nor does the “winter bonus”
make up for the pay cuts that decrease the couriers’ income from March
to October. Hence, a return to the old pay model would be a more simple
and effective solution.
The winter bonus does not address the
fundamental problem that as freelancers Foodora’s couriers are excluded
from the most basic worker protections, such as sick leave, insurances
and pensions. As winter is approaching fast, Foodora must address the
lack the of proper safety, because as the weather gets worse, the risk
of getting sick or into an accident increases.
We are happy to hear that Foodora addresses the question of rider spaces. “Looking for them” is however not enough, it already snowed in Helsinki, so couriers need break spaces now and in all the cities in which Foodora operates—Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Jyväskylä. Foodora was noted by its couriers well over a year ago that couriers absolutely need break spaces, so Foodora has had plenty of time to look for them.
Even though Foodora has refused to negotiate with its couriers, we repeat our call to Foodora to properly address the demands of couriers and negotiate with us over how to improve working conditions of freelancers. We expect Foodora to answer us byFriday 2.11.2018. If not, we will proceed by calling customers to boycott the company from Monday 5.11.2018 onwards.
Last winter I was biking down a hill towards the city centre to pick up a new order. At the bottom of the hill is an intersection and I had the green light. As I was nearing the intersection, a car turning left didn’t notice me; I remember being startled as I suddenly noticed the side view of a car right in front of me. I remember little of what happened next, but apparently I managed to dodge the car while still braking hard enough to send me over my handlebars into the middle of the intersection. I couldn’t get up on my own, but luckily some pedestrians came to my help and called an ambulance.
I was wearing reflective gear, my bike had lights and the road was well lit. Luckily I didn’t break any bones. Based on the condition of my helmet I didn’t hit my head anywhere either.
I remember texting to dispatch in Berlin I was just in an accident. The answer I got was “Do you want to end your shift?”
What followed the accident left me feeling completely alone. I told my captain as well as the senior rider captain in Turku about what happened, but I was never asked any details by Foodora. Visiting the doctor about the weird pain in my shoulder, fixing my bike and sorting out everything with my insurance company was all my own responsibility. The physical and mental trauma meant I wasn’t able to get on my bike for several weeks, which also meant I was completely without any income during that time.
There were many times an accident like this could’ve happened but luckily didn’t. Couriers working in city centres are underdogs when it comes to the flow of traffic as many car drivers are simply oblivious to the fact that bikers need their space on the road as well. Foodora’s system of ranking its couriers based on their performance creates the feeling that one always needs to be faster and more effective. Rider captains keep on emphasizing safety, but they don’t really need to even take part in the competition since their shifts are guaranteed by their employment contracts.
I don’t want accidents like this to happen to anyone else and for them to be left as alone as I was. That’s why I’m part of the campaign.”
This was Helsinki yesterday and from now on, the weather gets worse. We couriers work outside and we can handle the weather. But we need break spaces to change, warm up, eat and go to the toilet.
Foodora kicked their couriers out into the cold just before the winter a year ago. As the weather gets worse, the risk of getting sick or into an accident increases, but Foodora couriers have no insurances or sick leave. That is irresponsible of Foodora.
We are writing to let you know that we are disappointed we have not received a response to the 5 demands we issued in our previous correspondence on 6th September 2018 and are now considering how to move forward with our campaign. As campaign members, we feel the need to move the struggle to the next level and will call for a boycott of the company from 5th November 2018 onwards.
A number of newspaper articles and publications in favour of the campaign are due for release in the coming weeks and we are gathering a significant audience for our materials. We believe the boycott will gain public support and have an adverse effect on the company’s trading. Furthermore, we would like to inform yourselves that we are in close collaboration with PAM union. We have held meetings with PAM representatives and their legal team to discuss all possible forms of action we can collectively take against the company for its treatment of ‘freelancer’ workers. SAK representatives are also concerned about the working conditions of ‘freelance’ employees at Foodora Finland Oy and their lawyers have publicly commented that new legislation should be introduced to protect workers from ‘false freelancer’ contracts.
We again send our request for a face-to-face meeting with representatives of the company to discuss our concerns. A number of current Foodora employees are actively involved in the campaign and can represent the organisation alongside an independent negotiator. We believe that successful negotiations between workers and the company will lead to improvements for all parties and ensure a successful future for the company in Finland. We strongly contend that a better cared for workforce will provide a more motivated and efficient service for the company.
As winter fast approaches couriers are still left out on the streets with a cut to their pay, no communal space, no accident insurance and rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, we are genuinely concerned about the welfare of these couriers.
Our goal is to enter in to discussions about working conditions with yourselves and, as you have been unresponsive to our previous emails, we feel we need to bring our campaign to the next level.
Climate change is not mitigated by individual consumer choices, but it
requires systemic and structural changes. This does not mean that we as
individuals should not act, but that we need to organize and to act
Reducing emissions from transport is one of the ways to mitigate the effects of climate change. This can be achieved by increasing the use of bicycles in private and public transport and logistics. Couriers can transport surprisingly large loads quickly, efficiently and ecologically and are thus part of the solution. We work, and want to continue to work, for ecologically sustainable urban transport.
MP and leader of the Left Alliance Li Anderson supports our campaign.
“I warmly support the Foodora couriers in their struggle for better working conditions. Their demands for a decent minimum wage, transparent shift allocation, work insurance and break spaces are self-evident to those who are employed, but these do not always cover the workers classed as “entrepreneurs” in the platform economy.
In my opinion, Foodora should recognize its couriers as employees as this would automatically solve many of the other demands.”
My name is Ibai and I worked for Foodora Finland for almost two years. My relationship with Foodora began as a Rider on late-2016 with a freelance-based agreement and in mid-2017 I became a Rider Captain with an employment contract up until I switched to another job at the end of last month.
I want to start by expressing that I have a bittersweet taste towards the ongoing Foodora campaign. On one hand, it hurts me deep to realize how a company to which I am grateful and to which I only wish the best must be taking a hit with the campaign. After all, It provided me a way to make a living by biking around, which is something I really like, and I made a few good Friends in the journey, many of which are still working in Foodora. On the other hand, I am very happy because the deteriorating working conditions of “false freelance” messengers are finally becoming a matter of public concern that will need to be addressed.
Even though the working conditions of the freelance messengers have never been pink at the pink company, their progressive deterioration has been more than evident over the past years. Moreover, the recent payment model restructuration has decreased the salaries of the freelancers, leaving especially the car drivers on a precarious situation that goes beyond the limit of what is morally acceptable.
Foodora Finland started running some couple of years before my involvement on the company. It all started as a locally managed start up with a Finnish CEO. All the messengers, which were named as Riders, had permanent employment contracts. These messengers enjoyed the working benefits bound by any employment contract, such as occupational insurance and health care, holiday- and sick leave-pay or double Sunday pay, as well as many other profession specific benefits such as km allowance, parking benefits, Rider Space with a Bike Maintenance Hub and Equipment Storage Facilities (including bikes, personal items an company equipment), bike and phone maintenance fees or a compensation model for other work specific equipment such as gloves, lights or winter tires.
Foodora Finland was really pink back then, but it was not without fault: the blackhole of this business model was that the remuneration model of Riders was poorly designed. The Riders were exclusively paid on an hourly pay basis, without a delivery bonus that would incentive them to do the orders. This led to an uncommitted workforce that was unwilling to embrace the increasing amount of hourly orders of a company in expansion. The Finnish direction was therefore forced to change to a remuneration model that would incentive new messengers to do orders, and they chose a formula that combined an hourly rate with a delivery bonus. However, instead of changing the remuneration model only, they also chose to make another change; to switch from a regular employment contract to a freelance-based agreement.
Therefore, a company that once started exclusively with employed messengers switched to offer freelance-based agreements to all the newcomers. This was a major move that can only be interpreted as the beginning of the end, since it opened the gate for further deteriorating working conditions on the unregulated far west market of employment relationships that are flag shipped by these false freelance agreements. This game-changing move was executed during times when Foodora Finland was starting to transition from a locally managed “cool&pink” startup to becoming part of a multinational corporation. Nevertheless, the Finnish management on an attempt of being loyal to their original code of offering a fair workforce, committed to maintain many past benefits such as the Rider Space with its Bike Maintenance Hub and Equipment Storage Facilities.
Once the they got rid of the Finnish CEO the integration of Foodora Finland into the multinational corporation was complete. Decisions were no longer taken in the Headquarters of Helsinki, but Foodora Nordics personnel in Stockholm, who at the same time respond to orders coming from Berlin. At this point the deterioration of the working conditions really started to pick up. The employment contracts off all the Dispatchers in Finland were terminated first, outsourcing this workforce to Berlin. Later on, the few employee messengers of the company (Riders with original contract and Rider Captains) were forbidden to work on Sundays, a change that effectively meant a pay cut.
They also started to gradually dismantle the Rider Space: they took away the Equipment Storage facilities first to later on remove the Rider Space with its Bike Maintenance Facilities, leaving the messengers without shelter on winter. Somewhere along the way they also deteriorated their shift allocation system by setting a maximum of 25h/week limit, introducing the Batch System, or making it more difficult to cancel or swap shifts. The flexibility that they always promised that the freelancers were legally entitled to was now severely compromised. They also changed their language to reflect that their messengers were no longer employees but “business partners”, starting to refer them as Delivery Partners instead of Riders.
Nevertheless, the most severe and scariest cut to messengers’ working conditions is the last one. The freelance Delivery Partners were forced to sign a new agreement if they wanted to be able to take shifts in the future and the only thing that was changed of the previous agreement was the compensation model. Sadly, the compensation model was changed downwards.
Bike riders were to get 20 cents more for every completed order, but their new hourly pay was one euro less for Monday to Saturday and a further one euro less on Sundays. Considering that the average order per hour in Finland is less than 2.5 orders/h, the math is pretty straightforward: Delivery Partners now get 0.5€ less on Monday to Saturday and 1.5€ less on Sundays. In what car drivers refer, their pay-cut has even been bigger. Even if their delivery bonus also increased by 20 cents and hourly pay was only decreased by one euro on Sundays, they removed the KM allowance and the parking benefits, which have a huge negative impact in their monthly income.
The scariest part of it all is that there is nothing stopping Foodora to further deteriorate the working conditions of their freelance workforce. Tomorrow they could force their Delivery Partners to sign a new pay cutting agreement since there is nothing stopping them. Many of their freelancers are desperate to work at any cost since they perceive to have little chance to better employment elsewhere. Moreover, Foodora management seems to have little to no remorse every time they deteriorate the working conditions of their freelancers; they seem to have no humanity or empathy whatsoever but tons of indifference to “compensate”. Most importantly though, there is no collective agreement for this profession, neither there seems to be a jurisdiction stopping Foodora from offering freelance agreements to a workforce that on practice operates under conventional employment conditions and not as independent contractors as they claim.
I want to finish by expressing that I wish and hope that the problem of deteriorating working conditions in Foodora will be addressed. I also want to show my willingness to help to try and find a solution as an independent agent that could play as an intermediary to help build bridges between the campaign members and the company management. Finally, I want the society and the decision makers to realize that that this is a problem that goes well beyond the pink company, a matter of legal deregulation that, if not addressed, companies will keep taking advantage since they are born to make money after all.