Messenger Appreciation Day

Today on the 9th of October, or 10–9 in the North American way of numbering dates, is the Messenger Appreciation Day. The celebration has its roots in the US: in 1991 San Francisco proclaimed the day to be in honor of messengers after the 10–9 radio code meaning “Say again” or “What”. Since then, other cities in the US and Canada have joined San Francisco in appreciating its bike messengers. In Finland, Messenger Appreciation Day is known mainly amongst the couriers, who celebrate it in various ways within the messenger scene.

Today, on Messenger Appreciation Day, we want to show our appreciation to all the messengers, especially those riding today in the rain. More so, we want to point out that messengers, like other workers, need appreciation—not abstract thanks and lip service, but concrete valuation in the form of decent pay and working conditions.

On this day, we want to remind Foodora Finland that when the company issues statements about appreciating its “delivery partners”, the monicker it has chosen for its couriers, the talk must be backed by deeds. We don’t need empty statements of appreciation, but we need:

1. Better pay
2. Transparent shift allocation
3. A break space
4. Insurances
5. Employment contracts

Foodora couriers are not demanding the bare minimum of decent working conditions. Foodora, show that you really appreciate your messengers by starting negotiations and addressing the demands.

We don’t give “feedback”, but demand!

Today Foodora approached its couriers with an email saying that they “will now take a closer look at (courier’s) comments and start investigating how they can align to (courier’s) wishes”.

Foodora, these are DEMANDS, not mere comments!

A responsible company that cares about its employees wouldn’t try to avoid meeting with them, communicate solely through social media and with vague and meaningless emails, refuse to set up a date for negations and completely shut its eyes from its worker’s struggle! Foodora, get a grip!

We also want to emphasize that Foodora Take Responsibility -campaign is organized by couriers themselves from the very beginning and represents them.

Bread & Roses

The campaign by Foodora couriers moves now to its second phase and approaches restaurants with bread and roses.

The Foodora couriers started a campaign on September 6th in cooperation with Vapaa Syndikaatti and Vastavoima to demand the repeal of the recent pay cuts and improvements in the working conditions of couriers. The vast majority of Foodora’s couriers work under ‘freelance agreements’, where they do not have normal employment rights, such as sick leave or insurances. In July, the couriers’ hourly pay was cut and now drivers do not get parking allowance or fuel subsidies. The couriers ask for fair pay and decent working conditions. We want bread, but roses too.

Because Foodora has not addressed the demands of the couriers, the second phase of the campaign begins on October 13. On that day we organize an event where couriers deliver bread and roses to restaurants and asks them to support the couriers struggle for better working conditions. The Foodora couriers believe that couriers and restaurants have, as service sector workers, much in common and shared interests. We want to deliver food from restaurants to clients’ homes under fair working conditions!

We approach restaurants as friends and ask them to publicly support couriers or to approach Foodora directly in support of couriers. As food couriers, we want to give the restaurants bread, because we know how important food is. And we want to give roses, because we know that mere bread is not enough, but workers need appreciation as well.

Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, Give us bread, but gives us roses

Why I support the campaign? Courier Per Ehrstöm

I did my first shift for Foodora in December 2017. I had just started studying again and needed to find work that I could do while studying. After a “test ride” with another rider I was employed and did my first shift a few weeks later.

The fact that there really wasn’t any kind of help offered for the riders surpised me. No place to change clothes, fix your bike or eat something. I did quite a lot of shifts during the winter and had to get suitable clothes and better tyres for my bike. Foodora provides you with jackets and shirts, but the rest you have to get yourself.

Foodora doesn’t collaborate with any bikeshop or help you with your bike maintance. What this means is that if you don’t have the gear and clothes for riding in the winter, you need to do quite many shifts in order to cover these costs.

Foodora doesn’t provide you with any insurance, they only recommend that you have your own insurance. Most insurance companies provide you with a quite affordable accident insurance, not many of them cover injuries that come from wear and tear. Riding a bike for many hours a day, in cold weather and with a heavy backpack is hard on your neck and back. I hurt my neck during the winter and had to take a break from taking shifts.

You book your shifts on a weekly basis and the system puts you in different groups called “batches” based on how actively you have been working. If you work a lot, you get access to the shifts earlier, if you haven’t been working much you get access to them later. If you are in the later batches there aren’t usually that many shifts left. So basically, in order to get work, you need to work. After I hadn’t worked for a while it was nearly impossible to get shifts. The only way to get shifts is to constantly check if somebody has given up their shift and then take that, at which point we are a long way from the type of flexibility Foodora promises their riders.

Foodora sees their employees as “freelancers” and the company acquits itself of any responsibility of their workers wellbeing. The riders and car drives operate under the kind of working conditions that absolutely should be considered as employment and they should have better rights.

Instead of making the working conditions better Foodora seems to only make them worse. I’m fortunate enough to have other another job, and I wont be returning to Foodora before the working conditions are made better. Since all of us don’t have the same possibility, I sincerely hope that Foodora will take more responsibility for their workers and give them the rights that they deserve.

Per is a 34 years old dramaturgy student at the Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts.

Why I support the campaign? MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto

The Greens have been addressing changes of working life and the increase of irregular work over recent years. For many people today, part-time work has become a part of everyday life. Full-time and continuous work is not available to many, who instead have to gain their income by working several jobs at once. Self-employment and gig jobs will also increase in the future. However, this should not mean that working conditions and workers’ income can be subjected to cuts like those made now. The problems brought up by the change of work need to be addressed and responsible entrepreneurship needs to be supported!

The position of Foodora couriers has been weakened. Many couriers have few income possibilities and the position to negotiate with the employer is non-existent. The platform economy needs to provide working conditions that secure the rights of couriers. Because of this I support the Foodora Take Responsibility campaign, in which couriers are fighting for fair working conditions.

Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto
MP, The Greens

Translated by Marcus Nicolson & Tuomas Tammisto from Finnish.