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See also: About our campaign (Part II)
This is the first part of a two-part text in which we recount some basics of our campaign, namely how the campaign started, who we are, what our relation to other actors is and how we operate. In this part we tell how our campaign started and who we are.
Our campaign is an independent and self-organized campaign initiated and run by couriers. Actives of a syndicalist unofficial union (Vapaa syndikaatti (‘The Free/Independent Syndicate’) were founding members of the campaign as some couriers had contacted them. Later, actives of an independent union/labor organization Vastavoima (‘Counterpower’) joined us. The majority of the campaign members and actives are however couriers.
The campaign started in the summer of 2018 when Foodora unilaterally cut the fees it pays to its freelance couriers. This caused couriers in the city of Turku to go public, especially after one of them lost their job as they refused to sign the new agreement that reduced the pay of couriers. Couriers in the city of Tampere meanwhile contacted the Vapaa syndikaatti and couriers in Helsinki (we knew each other from bicycle related circles). Helsinki couriers and Vapaa syndikaatti members started the campaign and right from the start we got in contact with the Turku couriers, who had their own self-organized groups. In the fall of 2018, the first Wolt couriers contacted us and wanted to join the campaign. Since then both Wolt drivers and bike couriers have been actively involved.
After our campaign took off and gained initial traction, the established Service Union United (PAM), member of the Finnish Central Organization of Trade Unions (SAK) became interested and since then we have had regular meetings with them, we have worked together and plan to do so in the future. In practice, they have looked into the legal side of the issue as they have the expertise and resources. They have also followed our campaign and written articles about it as well as given training about labor rights to employed couriers.
We (couriers and campaign actives) work as a campaign rather than an union, but active couriers founded the Finnish Courier Collective (FCC) so that some of the energy and organization would hopefully be retained after this campaign inevitably ends. The FCC isn’t, yet at least, a registered organization or an union, but we are thinking about negotiating insurance deals for self-employed couriers, establishing emergency funds and such. The FCC is for all couriers, be they employed, fake freelancers or genuinely self-employed and whether they work in the food delivery industry or other parts of the transport sector.