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The last days have been grim for couriers. We told how last Saturday (25.5.) a bike 21-year old Glovo courier named Pujan died after being hit by a garbage truck in Barcelona. Yesterday we heard that on Friday the 24th of May a car driver ran over a 19-year old UberEATS courier and fled the scene in Champs-sur-Marne near Paris. The courier was hospitalized and declared brain dead on Tuesday. On Tuesday the 28th of May, bike thiefs beat a Deliveroo courier to death during his shift after the courier had tried to stop them from stealing his bike. Three food couriers have died within four days in Europe. When you count the Yandex courier who died of exhaustion during his shift in St. Petersburg, there have been four deaths in the last four weeks.
All work in traffic is risky and bike couriers are particularly vulnerable. Therefor couriers need to have insurances, sick leave and a decent pay, for which they do not need to endanger themselves. The food delivery companies like Foodora, Wolt, Deliveroo, Glovo, UberEATS and Yandex do not offer any of these to their couriers, but circumvent labor legislation through freelance agreements. In addition, the pay is often so small and tied to the number of deliveries so that couriers would ride or drive more, faster and longer.
Such a system harms couriers—and as we have seen, also kills them. The courier in St. Petersburg died of exhaustion, because the pay is so small that in order to get a decent day’s worth of pay, they have to work 10–12 hours. The courier in London was beaten to death, because he could not afford to lose his means of work, which he himself pays for. A collission with a car can incapacitate a bike courier for weeks, and if that happens, the platform companies leave the courier on their own deivces. They just lose their income for the time they recover. If they are lucky enough not get killed in the accident.
edit: We have corrected the information regarding the state of the courier in Champs-sur-Marne.
Correction: we have just learned from our colleagues in France that the courier in has not died. As a result of the accident, the courier was declared brain dead on Tuesday, but he is still alive and his family hopes for the best.
We wish all the best to our colleague in Champs-sur-Marne and express our sympathy to his family and friends.