The pandemic has made a lot of us reliant on delivery riders. They are frontliner workers who deserve support and protection from the government and employers that raked in cash as demand for deliveries rose. However, it seems that there are delivery platforms that think otherwise.
Last week, Foodpanda struck around 100 of its riders with 10-year suspensions (which are pretty much equivalent to terminations) for joining protests against its wage policy.
Inquirer reports that Foodpanda suspended 30 riders from Davao City on July 13, a day before a group of riders planned to stay offline for a two-day silent protest against wage cuts. The company then suspended 70 more riders after the group decided to take the protest to the streets after the initial suspension.
According to the riders, Foodpanda started reducing their earnings by more than half in November 2019. A rider that used to earn an average of P75 for a delivery can now only receive a maximum of P28. Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc. spokesperson Glen Costan said that while the delivery payment depends on the distance between the customer and the seller, drivers only get a portion at a fixed rate. Riders have been asking to see the breakdown for its computation. It’s hardly a request that merits the hostile silence demonstrated by swift suspensions.
“What happened was [some of the] accounts were brought back. This is what happens when a rider goes to their office. They’ll give you back your access to the app if you snitch on a leader [of the protest],” he told the Inquirer in Filipino in a phone interview on Sunday.
As of July 18, only 43 riders remain suspended because Foodpanda returned app access to riders who were willing to take part in its “Whistleblower Program.” “They’ll give you back your access to the app if you snitch on a leader [of the protest],” said Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc. president Edmund Carillo.
Foodpanda also released a press statement on July 18. “Fees are updated to reflect the most current demand and supply status, so we can ensure riders are always compensated fairly,” wrote the company. “Regarding allegations of rider terminations, Foodpanda has suspended riders who are found to have broken their agreement with Foodpanda, such as causing disruptions to operations that affect the wider ecosystem of restaurant-partners and customers.”
This incident further proves why we must revisit our labor codes to reflect how the pandemic has changed workplace systems and how our society is re-embracing the power of protests. While the “The Public Assembly Act of 1985” protects our right to peaceful assembly, its definition of assembly does not include “picketing and other concerted action in strike areas by workers and employees resulting from a labor dispute.” The law also differentiates legal from illegal strikes, wherein the former has a “valid purpose and conducted through means allowed by law.” We shouldn’t be legally forced to carry the burden of proving the validity of our push for change.
It’s time for us to change our perspective on work disputes and workplace demands. Employees shouldn’t lose their jobs just because they’re asking for fair wages and transparency.