Lawmakers yesterday urged the Ministry of Labor (MOL) to clarify the responsibility of online delivery platforms for their couriers’ labor insurance following three fatal accidents over the past week.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday conducted inspections at Foodpanda and Uber Eats, and said that couriers working for the firms should be provided with labor insurance.
Couriers should be categorized as employees, instead of independent contractors, because their contracts require them to wear company uniforms and report to their employers if they cannot work during their assigned shifts, the agency said.
Lin Chia-wei (林佳瑋), a New Power Party (NPP) legislative candidate for Taoyuan, told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei that although the agency categorizes Foodpanda and Uber Eats deliverers as employees, it has not established a clear set of standards that can be applied to other delivery companies.
It remains unclear if other delivery platforms, such as Lalamove, Deliveroo and GoGoVan, are legally required to provide labor insurance to their couriers, Lin added.
Before Monday’s inspections, ministry officials had carried out two inspections at Foodpanda since July to determine whether its couriers were treated as employees, but the company refused to cooperate in both cases, she said.
Foodpanda was given the minimum fine of NT$30,000 for each infraction, while it could have been fined up to NT$150,000, Lin added.
“The ministry has known that couriers are facing great danger at work, but it never took the problem seriously until there were deaths,” she said.
The ministry should clarify delivery companies’ responsibilities toward their couriers and crack down on uncooperative firms, she said.
The legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee should hold a meeting on the working conditions of couriers and require the ministry to give a briefing, NPP Chairman Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.
If a company contravenes labor laws or treats its employees as independent contractors, its name should be published so that consumers can choose a more ethical platform, he added.
Separately yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chu (黃國書) and Taipei City Councilor Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) urged the ministry to review the categorization of couriers at delivery companies.
Without insurance, “couriers are risking their lives to earn money,” Hsu told a news conference.
For every trip, a courier earns NT$70 to NT$80, while the platform receives nearly 30 percent of the order amount, she said.
A courier surnamed Hua (華), 26, said that a courier receives a delivery order every six minutes on average.
While the company requires him to complete each delivery within 15 minutes, “if we have an accident, nothing is guaranteed,” he said.
On Thursday, a 29-year-old Foodpanda courier was killed when his scooter collided with a truck in Taoyuan. On Sunday, a 20-year-old Uber Eats courier was killed after his scooter was hit by a car in Taipei. On Monday, a 30-year-old Lalamove deliverer fatally struck a man crossing a street in Taipei.
The Taipei City Police Department’s Traffic Division yesterday said it would invite major food delivery platforms to attend a traffic safety symposium on Friday.
On Oct. 1, it added a special “food delivery platform” notice to its traffic accident report database, which showed that 30 accidents involving food couriers — in which one person was killed and 20 were injured — were reported in Taipei from Oct. 1 to Sunday — an average of 2.3 accidents per day, the division said.
All of the accidents involved scooter or motorcycle riders and 11 of them were aged 18 to 25 years, it added.
Additional reporting by Lee I-chia
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