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We support the demands by AV-translators

The Union of Journalists in Finland (UJF) and the Akava Special Branches (ASB) have issued a strike notice by audiovisual translators regarding the failure of talks on a new collective bargaining agreement. According to the unions, the biggest the main point of difference are the fees paid to self-employed translators that the employers do not want to include in the collective bargainining agreement. According to Petri Savolainen from UJF, 80% of translators cannot influence the prices of translation. Helena Lampinen from ASB further notes that the disagreement concerns more widely the position of self-employed that are dependent on their clients, namely virtual or sham entrepreneurs, and their part in collective bargaining. The strike notice is the first of its kind, namely issued by the self-employed, in Finland.

As couriers working mostly under freelance agreements, we fully support the demands by the AV-translators and their possible strike action. Like the AV-translators and the unions note, the disagreement concerns all the self-employed, freelancers and sham entrepreneurs dependent on their client companies. Bringing the fees paid to the self-employed within collective bargaining agreements would is important to secure the livelihoods of the self-emplyoed and prevents for its part the circumvention of employer responsibilities and the deflation of the price of work through freelance contracts.

We support the demands by AV-translators, because also in the transport sector there are numerous car and bicycle couriers working as sham entrepreneurs dependent on the companies for their income. As we have noted in our campaign, the problem concerns not only couriers or translators, but the self-employed working in several sectors and ultimately is a question of how and under what conditions is work in our society done and how are workers granted their minimum security.

Recruitment at Foodora and Wolt

Due to the vast amount of open shifts Foodora has been aggressively recruiting new couriers to its ranks. Because the demand for workforce is so high at the moment, the company has been speeding up the recruiting process by abolishing the test rides of courier candidates. But it’s not just Foodora, also Wolt is trying to cut the costs by abridging the introduction of new couriers.

Previously people willing to work as Foodora’s couriers would fill the application on the company’s website and then sign up for a test ride if they were picked. The practices have changed several times, in the beginning you’d be invited to an interview and introduction and then later do practice deliveries to see if you could handle the work well enough. Then later it was changed so that you’d follow your rider captain picking up and delivering tasks and they would show you how the applications work, where restaurants are and how you are expected to encounter restaurant staff and customers. You’d get an idea about how fast-paced the work is when you tried to keep up with your captain navigating through the city. Then came the “go from a to b and take a selfie when you get to the location” -option, which only measured the courier candidate’s ability to move fast enough from one place to another. Now the new couriers receive barely any introduction.

Wolt has been following this trend by getting rid of introduction rides that courier candidates took with senior couriers who would show them how to use the app, where some of the restaurants are and how to communicate with restaurant staff as well as customers. Now, just like at Foodora, there is only a video the new couriers watch and that is supposedly enough for training for work that requires skill, strength as well as understanding of the city plan and how to navigate there.

It seems that these companies are outsourcing the briefing to other couriers, perhaps short-sightedly expecting to save from costs and the precious worktime of the rider captains. New couriers are thrown into the field even without basic knowledge on how to use the applications, how to manage shifts, log in and accept deliveries, communicate with the dispatchers or even where and how you are expected to work. We see rookies constantly asking same questions in group chats about things that should be obvious to anyone who has received an adequate introduction to the work.

Adopting the mindset of a courier takes time. You need to memorize the routes, shortcuts, different practices in different restaurants, where to find the backdoors and elevators, which roads are good and which are bad, which routes to take to avoid traffic lights and which streets are one-way, where to park and how to avoid parking fees. Both cyclists and car drivers need to learn how to survive in terrible weather like we’ve seen lately. When people are asked to work from home, because the driving conditions are so bad, couriers are on the streets pushing through the snow and slush delivering food to those ones at the comfort of their homes.

To be a good courier it takes time, skill and motivation. It’s not something you learn by watching a 5-minute video.

These companies thrive on inequality. When the rate of unemployment is high and there are others who’s place on the job market is low, it’s a guarantee for companies like Wolt and Foodora to have a constant stream of new couriers coming in. The turnover rate in these companies is high and most of the couriers only work for a few weeks. Why bother to introduce them properly and motivate and support your couriers when you can just constantly hire new people? Surely this affects the quality of the service and delivery times, but who cares as long as the companies make money. When the money flow stops the companies migrate elsewhere

We support the employment assumption

suomeksi / Facebook

From the point of view of a courier working for a platform company, the employment assumption is a sorely needed reform that would bring the working conditions and legal situation of those forced to work as sham entrepreneurs on par with the minimum standards as required by labor legislation. Even though the law is in fact very clear — if work is done in a dependent position, one is not an entrepreneur — in practice nobody guarantees the legal protection of platform workers or other sham entrepreneurs.

There is a regulatory vacuum in the growing platform economy in Finland. The companies working in the field take shamelessly advantage of people in a vulnerable position, especially that of migrants, and their need to take on work under any conditions. Due to this vulnerable position, the platform workers have to bear the costs of both entrepreneurship and employment without the benefits of either.

For example, the couriers working as sham entrepreneurs for Foodora and Wolt are completely subjected to the unquestionable control of the companies during their work. They are expected to behave in particular ways, wear company uniforms, while expected to cover from their small pay all the side expenses of their work from insurances to equipment and bear all the risks from illness, accidents and the uncertainty over the continuity of work.

In the Justice4couriers campaign we demand an end to the ruthless exploitation of the workforce and the circumvention of the labor legislation that was purposefully designed to protect workers. The platform economy and the companies using its methods are no great innovations as presented in myths. The great innovation is merely rhetorical; the treacherous definition of workers as independent contractors.

It is the responsibility of decision makers not to be overwhelmed by this development. If we want to call our country a welfare state that is just and fair and that respects the value of people, we must take control of this development and bring it into the sphere of proper regulation.

No flexibility for drivers or couriers

suomeksi / Facebook

In the past few weeks, it has snowed much in Finland. Up to the point that the police has on the worst days recommended that those who have the option, work from home, because road conditions have been bad. Still, couriers and drivers—whom Foodora and Wolt class as independent contractors or “delivery partners”—need to work.

On one of the days with the heaviest snow, the car of a Foodora driver was stuck in snow, and they could not make it to their shift. As the driver could not cancel the shift 24 hours in advance, they received a “no show”, which will make it harder to receive shifts in the future. When the driver asked the “no show” to be revoked, as they could not make it, because their car would not move, Foodora refused, because the driver could have ordered tow truck—at the driver’s expense.

The couriers and drivers have the responsibilities and obligations of an employee, they cannot refuse orders that financially do not make sense to them, they cannot miss shifts and they have to work according to the direction of the dispatchers. However, they have none of the rights of an employee, and if they are injured, fall ill or their vehicles break down, Foodora and Wolt do not take any responsibility. By expecting the drivers and couriers to behave like employees, but denying them the rights of employees, and denying them the freedom of freelancers, Foodora and Wolt try to have it both ways.

The “flexibility” that Foodora and Wolt advertise as a benefit of the freelancer contract is only beneficial for the companies.

Deliveroo couriers strike in the UK

Yesterday Deliveroo couriers in the United Kingdom went—again—on strike for better pay and basic worker rights. Like Foodora and Wolt couriers, our colleagues at Deliveroo are denied pensions, sick pay, insurances and work in danger conditions for poor pay.

“Every time we have struck, we have won better pay. They’re the Empire, and we’re the Rebels. And this is the moment where we just found out there is a hole in the Death Star. Without us, they don’t have an app.”

Courier Strike 1st Feb 2019!

Why couriers like Deliveroo riders are going on strike!To donate to the strike fund click here: https://www.gofundme.com/bristol-couriers039-strike-fundAnything helps! (ˆ˚ˆ)/

Posted by Bristol Couriers Network on Friday, February 1, 2019

Terrible news from France

suomeksi / Facebook

We heard from a French courier union that a 18-year-old UberEATS bike courier has died during his shift in Bordeaux after a truck reversed on him. The news shocked couriers throughout Europe and we want to send our condolences to the family and friends of the courier.

Both bike and car courier work in traffic, where accidents cannot always be avoided. Because of this it is of utmost importance that couriers have insurances and the possibility for sick leave and pay. The food delivery companies offer none of this: in Finland too, Foodora and Wolt courier work especially in the winter in very difficult conditions without the companies offering them even the minimum security. The risk of an accident is increased, because the small pay—that both Foodora and Wolt cut—of the couriers is paid by the number of delivered orders. So couriers are encourage to ride more, faster and longer.

And as the tragic accident of Bordeaux shows, bike couriers who are in a most vulnerable position can wind up in an accident that was not of their doing. Foodora and Wolt, take responsibility of your couriers on whose work you businesses are based!

Platform companies lose court cases

suomeksi / Facebook

Foodora is looking for new couriers and in its ad it mentions the “flexible freelance agreement” as one of the work’s benefits. A freelance agreement is however only a benefit for Foodora, not for the couriers. The freelance status excludes the couriers from all basic worker rights: the couriers pay their own pensions, have no insurance, no sick pay and their pay can be cut or they can be fired at any time without any reason.

Both Foodora and Wolt offer only freelance contracts to their couriers. This is a common practice internationally too, also Deliveroo, Glovo and UberEATS circumvent worker rights with freelance contracts.

The couriers are however struggling for their rights and have recently gained notable victories: in Turin the court ruled that Foodora had wrongly classed five couriers as freelancers. An even greater victory was gained in the Netherlands where the court decided that all Deliveroo freelance couriers are in fact employees and Deliveroo must adhere to the collective agreement of the transport and logistics sector.

We call for Wolt and Foodora to negotiate with its couriers, because the time of denying workers their rights is over.

The new year begins with snow

suomeksi / Facebook

The new year has started in difficult weather: the roads have been extremely slippery, the wind strong and today it snows heavily. Bicycle couriers work in any kind of weather, but Foodora and Wolt couriers have to work under bad conditions without insurances or the possibility for sick leave. Foodora removed brake spaces from its couriers over a year ago and despite its promises, the company has not provided new ones. So the old problems continue into the new year and thus we continue our work to improve the working conditions of bike and car couriers.

If you want to help, share our texts, follow us on social media and invite your friends to follow us.

Platform economy hits on the early delivery

suomeksi / Facebook

The morning delivery personnel of Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily newspaper, have been classed as independent contractors, who pay for their own pensions, insurances and equipment, even though they work for Early Bird, the delivery company owned by Helsingin Sanomat. In the past, the delivery personnel were regularly employed. There have been problems in the morning delivery, as many workers have quit, because of the bad working conditions.

From the start of the campaign, we have argued that this is not only about food couriers, but about a wider attempt to worsen working conditions through freelance contracts, which shift more and more risks to the employees. The newspaper morning delivery is but one example.

Parliamentary committee hearing

The parliamentary Employment and Equality Committee invited us to give an expert statement regarding work in the platform economy. The committee has given its statement, where they voice many of the same concerns and suggestions we pointed out in the hearing.

The committee notes that clear legal rules concerning the platform economy are needed. Now de facto employers may circumvent legal obligations of employers. More so, the committee notes that the definition of employment could be expanded to cover those who now work as freelancers dependent on the platform companies and that they should receive the same rights and responsibilities as those employed with traditional contracts.

As couriers who work in different situations as employees, self-employed and “fake freelancers” for platform companies, we welcome the statement by the committee. We hope that decision makers take the advice of the committee and that companies like Foodora and Wolt begin negotiations with their workers.