Is this the future of work? Grab Philippines terminates delivery riders to silence concerns about insecurity and abuse

Is this the future of work? Grab Philippines terminates delivery riders to silence concerns about insecurity and abuse

With all the talk about “the future of work”, there is no doubt that tens of millions digital platform workers will be a vital part of that future. But will they have the fundamental human rights and freedoms that all workers are entitled to? Grab Philippines seems to think the answer is, No.

In response to a peaceful rally organized by the United Riders of the Philippines – Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – International Union of Food (RIDERS – SENTRO – IUF) in Pampanga, Grab Philippines summarily terminated two riders, Mark Larson Vallejo and Mary Rose Cenidoza.

The rally was one of many peaceful rallies organized by RIDERS – SENTRO – IUF across the Philippines to draw attention to the insecurity, unfair treatment and lack of protection faced by delivery riders.

Instead of responding to these concerns by engaging with the union, Grab Philippines management (not the algorithm) decided to terminate Vallejo and Cenidoza as punishment for speaking out. But the action by Grab Philippines proved the point: delivered riders are vulnerable to unfair, arbitrary punishment, and have no job protection.

This cannot become the future of work, where digital platforms earning billions claim they are creating jobs and improving livelihoods, while passing all the risk to workers through harsh working conditions, unbearable stress, and irregular and unstable incomes. In fact this fear and insecurity – and not artificial intelligence or algorithms – seem to be the primary management tool for these digital platform companies.

RIDERS – SENTRO – IUF was formed by delivery riders in the Philippines to fight against such a future and to make these essential jobs safe, secure and decently paid. If Grab Philippines is to have any kind of future it must reinstate Vallejo and Cenidoza, listen to the concerns raised in these peaceful rallies, and talk to the union. Only then will there be a possibility that the future of work for tens of millions of digital platform workers will be decent work.

 

RIDERS – SENTRO – IUF Statement Calling for the Reinstatement of Mark Larson Vallejo and Mary Rose Cenidoza

Support Your Riders, Not Punish Them:

The freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important values in any society.  All Filipinos have the right to speak up against abuse, injustice, and unfairness without any fear of retaliation, including the termination of employment. In fact, companies that would rather harass and terminate their workers for speaking up for their needs and concerns than address these demonstrates their disregard for the wellbeing of their employees, the very same people that they praise as essential partners and part of their corporate families.

The United Riders of the Philippines – Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa – International Union of Food (RIDERS – SENTRO – IUF) condemns grabs brazen and groundless termination of Mark Larson Vallejo and Mary Rose Cenidoza both delivery riders of Grab Philippines in Pampanga. Their termination, based only on the vague insinuation of “violating” Grab’s Code of Conduct via text, even committing a “fraud-related issue” according to the Grab app is simply an act of intimidation.

Clearly, the termination was done purely to punish Vallejo and Cenidoza for standing up for their fellow riders and demanding just protection and support for the vital work that they do for Grab and the thousands that rely on the platform’s services.

RIDERS – SENTRO – IUF demands the immediate reinstatement of Vallejo, Cenidoza and the end to Grab management’s harassment of its workers. If Grab is serious in its commitment both to provide quality services to its patrons, and the safeguarding of its riders, then the company must prove this in practice – support your riders, not punish them.

Digital platform food delivery riders strike in the Philippines, highlighting unfair and hazardous working conditions throughout the Asia-Pacific region

Digital platform food delivery riders strike in the Philippines, highlighting unfair and hazardous working conditions throughout the Asia-Pacific region

The newly formed Union of Delivery Riders in Digital Platforms-SENTRO-IUF launched strike action for the first time on July 11, 2022, in General Santos in the Philippines. The digital platform food delivery riders are demanding fair and just delivery earnings, an end to arbitrary and unfair suspension and terminations (including the “off-boarding” of riders’ accounts without due process), as well as calling for accident insurance coverage.

The strike action comes at a time when more digital platform food delivery riders are getting organized. While spontaneous protests and strikes have been common in Southeast Asia in recent years, organized protest increased during the pandemic. Designated as essential workers recognized as providing a vital service, they continue to be subject to the uncertainty and mental stress of malicious complaints leading to unfair punishment, and unexplained changes in earnings. This adds to the existing pressure of fast delivery times and unsafe working conditions, including road accidents and heat stress.

 

On June 26, 2022, digital platform food delivery riders joined restaurant workers and fast food workers in the IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Food Services Workers Meeting. Over 115 participants from six countries joined the meeting to discuss the challenges faced by food service workers despite being recognized as essential workers in the pandemic. The meeting identified the urgent need for more food service workers to form and join unions – including digital platform food delivery riders – to build the collective bargaining power needed to secure the stable, decent incomes and safe work that essential workers deserve.

PUBLIC STATEMENT

11 JULY 2022

“MGA DELIVERY RIDERS NAMAN!”

FAIR EARNINGS, STOPPAGE OF ILLEGAL OFF-BOARDING, ILLEGAL SUSPENSION and PROVISION OF ACCIDENT INSURANCE – UDRDP

Led by the Food Panda Delivery riders from General Santos, members of Union of Delivery Riders in Digital Platforms (UDRDP) the SENTRO and IUF City demands better working conditions by providing fair and just delivery earnings, stoppage of rampant suspension and termination (off-boarding) of riders account without due process and Accident Insurance.

Despite their equally important functions and the regular nature of their work, Food Panda delivery riders  more often get lower income and zero benefits; but have heavier workloads; are more prone to road and traffic hazards and sexual harassment or outright assaults from customers; and remains no employee-employer relationships with the delivery platforms – effectively denying them the economic benefits and political gains that may be enjoyed by regular workers, including the right to join a union and to receive additional rights and benefits from a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The UDRDP lamented that the Food Panda delivery riders are treated as “delivery-partners, free-lancers and independent contractors” which justify their lower wages, although they: work 12-15hrs a day; work within strict time limits (the company requires them to come to work at an appointed time, report their work-break by lunch time and go to a place it designates); and can be suspended or terminated by the food panda.

UDRDP also pointed out that some areas do not have designated waiting areas forcing the delivery riders to find shed under the trees, parking areas and besides the roads; do not have personal protective equipment and do not have regular road and traffic safety trainings. That this blatant disregard for or violation of occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) may result not only to temporary injury but also to permanent disability and death of the delivery riders.

Foremost of these demands are the regularization of employment of delivery riders, wages and benefits befitting their permanent work status, strict observance of OSHS, among others.

The UDRDP-SENTRO/IUF is set to hold more mobilizations until Food Panda heeds their demand to stop the illegal termination/off boarding and suspension of delivery riders and to sit down in a meeting with the union about the fair earnings and insurance.

UDRDP is the Union of Delivery Riders in Digital Platform which is affiliated to the national labor center SENTRO (Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa); and the Geneva-based IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations).