Imagine a perfect evening all planned and set to order from a food delivery service and you fail to do so. That is the case with some neo-liberal Latin American consumers as a judge, who in crisis stricken Argentina, has suspended delivery apps for not stating that companies must pay for the safety gears that these delivery app workers can use during their work. With the growth of online delivery apps and baggage of huge profits, the demand of jobs in this sector is only accelerating and not just in Latin American countries but also in other Third World countries like India. Starting from the lower middle class to every other down below, these platforms can provide easy jobs to earn their bread and butter by working from Monday-Monday. Workers of these sectors make around $500 in a month in Argentina, but along with jobs, these app based companies also bring life risk.
These workers work 12-14 hours a day to pay for their bills, pay for the fuel spent during their work time and also for the gear that the company provides. Besides this, these jobs also come with a registration cost and they cannot provide any experience certificates as these workers are not recognised as employees by the company. Workers in this sector are often seen speeding on the road to deliver the food within specified time, are not paid regularly for waiting at the restaurant and are heavily fined by the police and repeatedly harassed for parking in front of restaurants. While some companies do provide a few parking spaces around every region, most restaurants do not have one and the workers have to pay hefty fines to keep working.
The picture is not any different in this country either. With companies breaking boundaries and going trans-national, the crisis that comes along in each sector also travels along borders. The deregulations in favour of companies are the same in every capitalist economy, always favouring the corporate and never the worker. Workers’ Unions in Argentina had been calling out the companies on their ignorance towards workers which ultimately resulted in the judge suspending the delivery apps and demanding that the companies equip workers with safety gear.
The lip smacking food with 50-60% of discount, free delivery on first orders, all comes with a cost, we, the neo-liberal consumer section do not pay and we are glad! Just as glad as we are about the Zomato CEO giving out a statement in favour of secularism and stating that food is itself a religion. Liberals and social democrats clapping from the back bench is an easy sight to spot whenever a celebrity (facebook or not) stands up for secularism in the face of growing fascistic tendencies of the ruling party and its ways of governance. That’s that and that’s what can be expected from this bunch but the leftists in favour of and participating in radical working class struggle has jumped on hyped up hollow statements this time.
It is a very common sight to see people praising delivery app workers and patting their back on social media, expressing gratitude but you’ll rarely see somebody speaking up for the labour rights of this sector. This is a neo-liberal unorganised sector that is devoid of the “employee” tag, they are referred to as partners, collaborators and multiple synonyms all across the globe. We know them in India, as partners of several food delivery app companies like Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats etc. In Argentina, they are recognised by the Delivery App companies as “collaborators”. They do not enjoy the labour laws that govern labour intense sectors in this country or outside. Worldwide, due the increasing unemployment crisis, more and more people are gushing in through the unemployment tunnel to this unorganised delivery app based sector. The drums of investments have been banged over and over again in the name of unemployment, all ultimately being a failure and ending with the vulnerable class leaning towards these sectors with deregulated laws that don’t cover their safety on road as an employee and even when they do, the entire charade of proving that the delivery partner/collaborator has met with an accident on road for receiving a compensation of some sort is absolutely inhumane and insane.
Recently in Argentina, one such delivery collaborator/partner met with an accident and the person was subjected to provide pictures of him carrying the package at the time of accident to receive compensation. This is equally true of the workers of this sector in India. With the increasing unemployment crisis here which has recently been stated to be the worst in the last few decades, this sector has a surge of workers looking for jobs to earn a living which these companies are using to threaten them from joining forces, standing united against the exploitation that the job brings along.
So before jumping on the couch and clapping for hollow statements that don’t pay the workers enough to eat the food that these workers bring to your doorsteps, think who you are clapping for? Always for the corporate, never for the workers!