- Tram Ho
The Nikkei reported that delivery drivers and workers in the “contract economy” have emerged as a much-needed element during the pandemic. Now, Singapore aims to support these people even more.
In his speech on Sunday night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was “particularly concerned” about delivery workers. Mr. Lee insists his government is aiming to solve difficulties for low-wage people in general.
He said: “They work with online platforms like Foodpanda, Grab or Deliveroo. They are present often, especially during the Covid-19 epidemic. They deliver our orders day and night. It’s hard work, but most earn a modest income.”
Mr. Lee announced that Singapore had reached 80% full vaccination coverage, paving the way for a gradual reopening of the economy. However, with the contract economy stabilizing and still expected to grow, the Ministry of Manpower Singapore is “researching” on how to create better working conditions for workers in this sector, including through consultation. While he did not say what measures would be taken, the results could affect some of the biggest companies in the Southeast Asian startup scene, which has grown rapidly with the support of startups. such workers.
In Singapore, three platforms dominate the food delivery sector. According to research by consulting firm Momentum Works, Grab and Foodpanda accounted for 42% and 34% of the market share last year, respectively, while Britain’s Deliveroo accounted for 24%. It is estimated that thousands of people are working as “partners” – not employees – of these companies.
Operators are also expanding grocery delivery services, in which drivers pick up items from supermarkets or convenience stores and deliver them to customers.
As the sector has expanded, it has attracted many workers who have been displaced or have their wages cut due to the pandemic.
Mr. Lee said: “More and more people are taking up this kind of work, so the problem is getting more and more complicated. We have to solve those problems to give these workers a safer future. “.
To confirm his point, Singapore’s prime minister showed a video shot by a university student, which describes the misery of a delivery worker. Drivers were pressured to complete 30 deliveries to claim their bonus, but only completed 29.
“Online platforms price their products. They determine which jobs are assigned to which workers. They manage how workers perform, including the application of penalties and layoffs.”
But without an employment contract, delivery workers “lack the basic job protections most employees are entitled to.”
Zhang Xuelin, a 38-year-old shipper who works for Sherpa’s – a food delivery service targeting foreigners and the rich in China – said he could earn up to 6,000 yuan a month in tips 10 years ago. , when mobile payments apps were still in their infancy. Now, people pay online so the tip is much less.”
China’s economy grew 4.9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to a report by China’s National Bureau of Statistics last week. Although the spending of China’s 1.4 billion people seems to be more limited due to the pandemic, shippers say their income is still enough to get through the day. Zhang said he can now earn up to 400 yuan ($60) a day and deposit about 10,000 yuan a month in the bank if he saves as much as he can.
In February this year, Beijing authorities identified food delivery drivers as an official occupation in China’s occupational classification. However, the surveyed shippers all complained that their company does not support enough social benefits such as unemployment insurance, health insurance, pension … but only accident insurance.
Meituan and Ele.me are increasingly imposing strict requirements such as shortening the delivery time and applying strict penalties if the shipper violates the regulations. Last month, the two companies faced criticism from critics over their treatment of drivers. The investigation by Renwu magazine found that many drivers of the two companies violated traffic laws to fulfill orders as quickly as possible.
Cai was fined 24 yuan by Meituan for canceling two orders. The reason is because the restaurant prepares the food for too long and if you don’t cancel, all the following orders will be late.
He pressed: “The fines are increasing, before they only fined 3 yuan. The rules are set by the powerful and they don’t care about the driver’s difficulties.” Chai lamented that there was no point in protesting because the bosses wouldn’t mind. And Zhao said he is preparing for a counseling exam to change jobs.
What do delivery companies say?
When asked to comment on the Singapore prime minister’s position, a Grab representative told Nikkei that the company “supports” the government’s move and “looks forward to further discussion”.
The representative added that it has offered various programs to its employees, such as supplemental income support for those serving quarantine orders or being hospitalized due to Covid-19. The spokesperson emphasized that contract workers “enjoy a lot of flexibility that employees don’t have” such as being able to freely move between platforms or stop working at any time.
Likewise, a Foodpanda spokesperson said that the welfare of their delivery workers is “always important” and that they invest heavily in support programs, such as subsidized insurance.
“We all, as consumers, must also participate,” said Eugene Tan, an associate professor at Singapore Management University. better wages. It also shows that as a society we value their work and contributions, and that they are part of us.”
For Singapore, easing stress on low-wage workers will go hand in hand with the government’s efforts to promote an image of an open, just society. Tan points out that Singapore’s minorities are “in the majority” of such workers.
Source : Genk