Our second meeting with Wolt

suomeksi / Facebook

On the 5th of February, representatives of the Justice4Courier campaign met for the second time with Wolt to discuss the working conditions of couriers. From our point of view, the meeting was very constructive and we agreed to meet with Wolt again in few months time to discuss issues further.

In the meeting, both Wolt and Justice4Couriers members suggested topics to be discussed. Both parties wanted to discuss the concrete conditions and terms of courier work and possible changes to them. In the meeting, we focused especially on two possible ways, or routes, to improve couriers’ working conditions:
1. Improvements into the freelancing model, such as insurances
2. The possibility for employment

Both Wolt and Justice4Couriers representatives acknowledged that the first route “cements” freelancing as a working model. Because of this, it we in the Justice4Couriers campaign prefer employment contracts as the way to improve courier working conditions. We discussed insurances and agreed that even though we prefer a more comprehensive solution offered by employment contracts, we welcome any and all improvements to the concete situations of couriers. Insurances that cover at least the worse case scenarios, such as injuries, are important, because we all agreed that as couriers work in traffic, someone is bound to be involved in a serious accident.

Wolt representatives told that as one way to improve the safety networks of couriers the company explores the possibility of offering employment contracts to couriers. The first phase in this is to map out what practical possibilities this would offer to organize the work of couriers economically and judicially in Finland and in other countries Wolt operates in. Our campaign is very pleased that Wolt explores this possibility. In our meeting, we discussed different practical issues such as shift and payment models that could be included in the employment contract. The discussion was in our opinion constructive and practical. Both parties seemed to favor a “dual model” where Wolt would have a (limited number) of employees and (a larger number) of freelancers. We acknowledge that Wolt has to explore how it would practically implement this and that such a change takes time. According to Wolt, the “dual model” has poses legal questions that the company needs to ponder. (The company notes that employment should be organized partly differently than freelancing to be legally feasible.)

All in all, our campaign representatives and campaign members who were briefed about the meeting, were very happy with yesterday’s discussion. We look forward to a new meeting with Wolt and we are happy that we have a constructive discussion relationship with Wolt. We want to continue similar discussions in the future, because ultimately, we believe, they will serve both the company and the couriers. After the meeting, Wolt contacted us and noted that company is happy that they have constructive and mutually appreacitve communication channel with the campaign.

PS. To open up how our campaign operates: the campaign group selects persons to represent the campaign at each meeting. The representatives have no mandate to make any agreements on behalf of the campaign, unless explicitly given so by the campaign group. Representatives are chosen anew for each meeting.

When labour becomes raw-material, humane treatment is forgotten

suomeksi / Facebook

During the last few months, Foodora’s activity in Helsinki has been unsustainable for couriers. The company began to expand strongly to new areas during the end of the last year. For a brief moment it seemed that couriers would benefit from this, as the company sought to encourage couriers to work in Espoo and Vantaa with fixed 14€/h payments. This would ensure the couriers income even if orders on the new area turned out to be scarce.

Because of the simultaneous expansion and the decreasing numbers of working couriers due to the cold weather, pay level on old areas rose as well. The company increased the delivery bonus with 1€/delivery for weekdays and with 1.5€/delivery on weekends. Thus for a brief moment it seemed that paylevels would be a bit more comfortable. It seemed also that the following months would be more secure in terms of shifts and that couriers did not face the prospect of being left completely without work, even if a couriers position in the Foodora ranking system would have been low.

Every good thing however ends, and Foodora’s response to the need for couriers was to recruit so many couriers that shift availability ended, which came as a surprise to many couriers. The momentary availability of shifts and better payment changed almost instantly to complete lack of shifts and income.

This situation has continued not for weeks and it shows how Foodora treats its couriers. They are mere raw-material for the company for which it can pay momentarily a better price, when supply is low. At the same time, the company tries to lessen the costs of labour by over-recruiting couriers in relation to the availability of shifts.

Couriers are however people and not just raw-material for production. It is often impossible for couriers to anticipate how Foodora will react and whether it will recruit too large a number of new couriers. For example, fewer shifts at a wrong time may lead to the courier dropping in the shift allocation ranking, and that may have dire consquences for the courier.

Without shifts there is no income, and without income the couriers does not pay rent, food or bills. For some couriers, a prolonged lack of income may even mean the loss of residency permits. Foodora shows again with its actions that couriers are just numbers in a inhumane system calculating productivity through algorithms.