What is the aim of Justice4couriers campaign?
The aim of the campaign is to improve the working conditions of couriers and drivers working for platform companies in Finland. We demand decent pay, fair working conditions and basic worker rights for Foodora and Wolt bicycle couriers and drivers.
Detailed demands can be found here.
Why are these improvements necessary?
Legally the couriers are workers. The main problem for the couriers at Foodora and Wolt is that they have no employment contracts, but work under freelancer contracts. Factually their work fulfills the legal criteria of an employment relation, but the companies circumvent labour laws by freelancer contracts.
The couriers are denied basic worker rights by the companies. Because Foodora and Wolt claim that their couriers’ and drivers’ status is self-employed, the couriers have only the responsibilities of an employee without the associated rights, such as protections against summary lay-offs, sick pay or insurances.
The couriers have no protection against dismissal. Because of this many of them, especially immigrants, who depend on the income, are very justly afraid of losing their jobs if they demand their basic legal rights.
The couriers and drivers have no right to sick leave or parental leave. Should they have an accident during work shift, they are left to their own devices with not support from the company.
The couriers’ pay isn’t fair and the companies pass extra charges to them. The couriers receive no salary, but gross pay, out of which they should pay themselves the side expenses (typically -25% of a workers’ salary), such as pensions, social security and the maintenance of their vehicles, fuel and phones. In the case of an employment relation it’s the employer’s responsibility to pay these fees, but companies like Foodora and Wolt pass the charges to their workers.
In the future this might concern your job as well. Ultimately, employers trying to mask employment relations as freelancing is a question larger than just food couriers’ work. The platform economy is already used among other sectors in home cleaning, personal assistance, newspaper delivery and even in industry. If no efforts aren’t being made to prevent the companies circumventing labour laws, these problems might concern everyone’s work in the future.
What about the couriers who want to work as freelancers?
Many of the couriers wish for an employment relation because it is the best, fairest and safest option for them. However some of the couriers would rather work as freelancers. That is why Justice4couriers campaign demands for a possibility for an employment contract for all the couriers, so they could choose the type of contract that they prefer.
Who are the people and organisations behind the Justice4couriers campaign?
Justice4couriers campaign was launched in 2018 by Foodora couriers, unofficial syndicalist union Vapaa syndikaatti and labor organisation Vastavoima. Since then, also Wolt couriers have joined the campaign.
You can read more about the formation of the campaign here.
Webelong to Transnational Federation of Couriers, a network for food couriers across Europe and the world. We have also cooperated with the established service-branch union PAM.
How does Justice4couriers-campaign operate?
Our campaign works on the basis of consensus. This means that in decision-making we seek to reach a solution which all campaign members can accept.
We have no designated leaders or positions, but all campaign members can take part on an equal basis. However, freelance couriers have the final say, because the campaign works to improve their working conditions.
When our campaign makes public appearances or talks to the media, we choose a spokesperson from the campaign on a case-by-case basis. The spokesperson has only the mandate to represent the campaign in the particular event. We usually select someone who does not have the risk of losing their job as a spokesperson, often a former or an employed courier.
Our campaign works on a voluntary basis and members can choose how much and in what ways they contribute to the campaign.
Is it safe for a freelancer to join the campaign?
We know that freelancers can easily lose their jobs and because of that we take care that Foodora and Wolt freelancers can take part in our campaign anonymously and without the companies knowing who is involved.
We hold meetings regularly in Helsinki. The meetings take place at a private space and are safe to attend. We announce the meeting times on our Facebook page.
Which one of the companies has better working conditions for the couriers, Foodora or Wolt?
The working conditions do not differ greatly between the two companies. At the moment both Foodora and Wolt couriers are given only freelance contracts. The pay model of the companies is slightly different, but the level of pay is similar and regarded as too low by couriers.
In the past, Foodora offered a choice between employment and freelancing, but since 2017 new couriers were offered only freelance contracts. A small minority of Foodora couriers who started working before 2017 are still employed.
Should I boycott platform economy companies like Foodora and Wolt that exploit workers?
At the moment there is no active boycott organised by Justice4couriers campaign. We will however announce if consumer boycotts are necessary to support the couriers or speed up the negotiations with the companies.
I want to help the campaign! What can I do?
We also highly recommend that you give feedback to Foodora and Wolt. You can tell them that as their customer you demand improvements of their couriers’ working conditions. You can write public posts about the campaign’s demands in social media and direct them to the companies, or you can give the companies feedback via private channels. You can also write critical comments on their advertisements on social media.
You can lobby politicians about the need for a reform in labour law, the employment assumption. Justice4couriers campaign supports the reform because it 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.
You are welcome to join the campaign and attend our meetings, demonstrations and other actions.
If you have contacts to other sectors in which workers are forced to be freelancers, tell them about the Justice4couriers campaign and spread the organising.