During the initial phase of our campaign in August 2018, we organized with fellow couriers, crafted our demands to Foodora, wrote texts explaining our demands and set up our campaign web pages. We then decided to hand out the demands publicly to Foodora by holding a demonstration outside the Foodora office in Helsinki and sent a press release the day before to the media. Journalists from Helsingin sanomat, the biggest daily newspaper in Finland, came to the demonstration, interviewed us, Foodora managers and union lawyers and wrote a relatively long article about it. After this article, other news media have written about the campaign as well. (For news coverage, see our Materials page.)
We have campaigned very actively on social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, where we share texts in which we explain the issues we are trying to solve and try to pressure the companies to negotiate and improve working conditions—for example by commenting on their social media advertisements. This is also a way of trying to get the public involved and try to get the issues into public discussion. We know we will not win this through the social media, but as a grassroots campaign, publicity and public discussion are one of the biggest leverages we have.
We have also argued that this is not just about food couriers, but about a larger question of employers trying to circumvent labor legislation and that this issues needs to be addressed structurally. We have received support and endorsements from (mostly left and green) MPs and through them, we were invited to give an expert statement on work in the platform economy at a hearing of the parliamentary committee on employment and equality. In terms of trying to affect the structures, this is about as successful as a small campaign like ours can be.
We engage also in direct action, such as demonstrations, handing out flyers and gluing posters. These are equally important tactics in trying to make the public aware about our campaign and its issues. Just as this campaign is not only about food couriers, but about how work and worker rights are organized, there is no one single level that is the “most important”, but we must act through the media, by addressing decision-makers and directly on the streets, where we work.
We have been invited quite regularly to different events, such as the Shadow Book Fair, to talk about our campaign and we usually use the opportunity—except for electoral campaign events of any individual candidate. (It’s election season now and we are not affiliated with any party.)
We hold meetings among the campaign group every other week and try to get more couriers—both food-delivery and ‘traditional’ couriers—involved. After we started our campaign against Foodora, also Wolt couriers contacted us and joined and we expanded the campaign to deal with Wolt as well. Helping couriers to get organize is however also difficult:
the turn-over of the workforce in the food delivery business is very high, many do not regard courier work as something they will be doing for a long time and many, especially immigrants, who depend on the income, very justly fear about losing their job, if they speak out or are active in the campaign, because as freelancers they can be fired at will. We have organized our campaign so that freelancers can be active anonymously. However, many freelancers have spoken to the media and in our events also publicly and openly.
Finally, we are been in contact with similar campaigns in Europe and took part in a courier union conference in Brussels last year (video, video). There we took part in founding the Transnational Federeation of Couriers, an umbrella organization for these kinds of unions and campaigns. The TFC is still being modeled and built up, but the actives of the different unions, campaigns and collectives are regularly in touch with each other and last December we managed to hold an international action day where several groups held events/strikes on the same day in different countries.