At just 19 years of age, Jasper Dalman was a Panda Food delivery rider in the Philippines. He was among the first riders to form the Cagayan de Oro City chapter of The United Riders of the Philippines (RIDERS-SENTRO-IUF).
Jasper joined the organizing effort of the The United Riders of the Philippines and attended union training. He did so in the hope of improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of delivery riders and their families.
There was an excitement – a youthful energy – in the prospect of finally being paid decently and to work with dignity. Most of all it was the security that the union would bring, including the commitment to fight for the right to quality health insurance and accident insurance. Like millions of delivery riders, Jasper’s workplace was his bicycle and motorcycle – making deliveries and returning from deliveries. To do this safely means that companies like Food Panda have to take responsibility and recognize riders’ rights to a safe workplace. It also means bringing an end to the abusive, stressful, unsafe systems that put riders at risk.
Jasper died in a horrific traffic incident on February 19, 2023, while working.
Jasper’s death is a tragic demonstration of the vulnerability of delivery riders. Riders work in extremely hazardous conditions – caught between delivery companies’ relentless drive for profits (squeezing everything out of riders using algorithms and unfair fees) and customers’ unreasonable demands for speedy delivery.
Added to this is the refusal of delivery companies like Food Panda to provide health insurance and accident insurance. This is insurance essential to riders in their workplace. For too long delivery riders injured in traffic incidents have been forced to cover their own medical costs or rely on the sporadic and unpredictable handouts of delivery companies. And in the case of deaths at work, families like Jasper’s are left with nothing.
We will not say that Jasper didn’t die for nothing and turn this into a call for quality insurance and safe work. We will not say that we will fulfill his aspirations for decent work with dignity. Maybe later in a tribute to Jasper we can consider saying such things. For now our grief is just too overwhelming.
All we will say is that we have lost young Jasper to the hazardous conditions imposed by delivery companies. His death was preventable, it was avoidable, it was not an accident. He was killed by unsafe work. And we must stop this.