I did my first shift for Foodora in December 2017. I had just started studying again and needed to find work that I could do while studying. After a “test ride” with another rider I was employed and did my first shift a few weeks later.
The fact that there really wasn’t any kind of help offered for the riders surpised me. No place to change clothes, fix your bike or eat something. I did quite a lot of shifts during the winter and had to get suitable clothes and better tyres for my bike. Foodora provides you with jackets and shirts, but the rest you have to get yourself.
Foodora doesn’t collaborate with any bikeshop or help you with your bike maintance. What this means is that if you don’t have the gear and clothes for riding in the winter, you need to do quite many shifts in order to cover these costs.
Foodora doesn’t provide you with any insurance, they only recommend that you have your own insurance. Most insurance companies provide you with a quite affordable accident insurance, not many of them cover injuries that come from wear and tear. Riding a bike for many hours a day, in cold weather and with a heavy backpack is hard on your neck and back. I hurt my neck during the winter and had to take a break from taking shifts.
You book your shifts on a weekly basis and the system puts you in different groups called “batches” based on how actively you have been working. If you work a lot, you get access to the shifts earlier, if you haven’t been working much you get access to them later. If you are in the later batches there aren’t usually that many shifts left. So basically, in order to get work, you need to work. After I hadn’t worked for a while it was nearly impossible to get shifts. The only way to get shifts is to constantly check if somebody has given up their shift and then take that, at which point we are a long way from the type of flexibility Foodora promises their riders.
Foodora sees their employees as “freelancers” and the company acquits itself of any responsibility of their workers wellbeing. The riders and car drives operate under the kind of working conditions that absolutely should be considered as employment and they should have better rights.
Instead of making the working conditions better Foodora seems to only make them worse. I’m fortunate enough to have other another job, and I wont be returning to Foodora before the working conditions are made better. Since all of us don’t have the same possibility, I sincerely hope that Foodora will take more responsibility for their workers and give them the rights that they deserve.
Per is a 34 years old dramaturgy student at the Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts.