As the Pride week is in full swing, people and groups across the board fly the rainbow flag in support of LGBTQIA rights. That is good and we too want to show our support for minorities. However, also platform companies, such as Foodora, Deliveroo and UberEATS proclaim to support Pride with their logos overlaid with the rainbow flag.
These companies circumvent labour legislation by keeping their couriers as freelancers and exclude them from worker protections, such as sick leave, pensions and insurances and cut the pay of the couriers at will. Before the companies stop exploiting their workers and start treating them fairly, their support of Pride amounts to cheap pinkwashing. Workers’ rights are human rights as well as are LGBTQIA rights.
We want to remember Pride as a political demonstration for LGBTQIA rights, not as a marketing gimmick. On Pride week, we want to show our appreciation for our gay, queer, transgender and non-binary colleagues and state that we keep on struggling for all couriers regardless of background now and in the future.
We are Jorge. We are Julien. We are Pablo. We are Maurizio. We are José. We are Alberta. We are Luis. We are Franck. We are Kuan. We are Su. We are Ramiro. We are Artyk. We are Pujan. We are Burgao. We are Karim.
Only during the last year, at least 12 food couriers have died at work. These are only the deaths that have come to our attention. When we mapped work related accidents among the Transnational Federation of Couriers, we also noted a number of permanent injuries, such as loss of limbs or eyes.
These are not merely traffic accidents, sudden illnesses or acts of violence, but work-related incidents, which are a result of the poor and piecemeal pay, which forces couriers to ride longer, faster and harder. They are a result of the lack of sick leave and insurances and the fact that couriers cannot afford to lose their means of work, for which they themselves pay. When a courier gets injured or killed at work, the companies do not have to take any responsibility. The courier pays for possible medical and repair expenses and loses their income from the time they are incapacitated, if they are lucky enough not to lose their lives.
We couriers do not accept that we do the hardest and most dangerous work with the poorest pay, yet are the only ones in these companies without even employment contracts. We mourn our killed colleaugues and comrades, but we als organize and work together from Finland to Chile and from Toronto to Hong Kong, because solidarity knows no borders.
No more courier deaths! Precarity kills! Justice for couriers!
In Finland, the government negotations for a new center-left coalition government have been completed. The negotiations were led by the Social Democratic party between the Center party, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s party. The resulting government programme has been made public and it contains some good news for us food couriers and other “fake freelancers”. The programme states:
In order to reduce the uncertainty of working life, the concept of employment will be specified in the labour legislation so that the masking of an employment relation into something else will be prevented.
Government programme 2019: 137 [our translation]
We Foodora and Wolt couriers have since the last fall demanded that we will be given a chance to sign employment contracts. Our campaign started after Foodora cut their couriers’ pay last summer with an unilateral agreement. Wolt had already issued pay cuts earlier, and as a consequence, also Wolt couriers joined the campaign. Both Foodora and Wolt can at any time cut the pay of their couriers, since the couriers work under freelance-contracts. Because of them, the couriers have no protection against arbitrary pay cuts or lay-offs, a possibility for sick leave, insurances, holidays or any other protection or worker right. Despite this, the work of couriers fulfills the criteria of employment, because the couriers are not in an independent position.
It is good that the programme addresses the issue of false freelance contracts. It is unsustainable that some companies distort competition and tread the working conditions of their workers by circumventing the labour legislation and dodging their responsibilities as employers. We have asked both Foodoran and Wolt to negotiate with us over our demands. We think the companies would do well to start the negotiations now, because our demands are more than reasonable and with the new government programme, it is high time to negotiate.