Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Page 2 News List

Food couriers rally against pay cut

By Su Meng-chuan, Chou Hsiang-yun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Foodpanda couriers stage a protest outside Banqiao Second Stadium in New Taipei City, as part of coordinated protests across the nation yesterday.

Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times

Foodpanda couriers yesterday went on strike across the nation to protest a company decision to reduce their pay.

In Taichung, about 60 couriers gathered at the plaza in front of Taichung City Hall, saying that cutting their pay from NT$70 (US$2.34) per order to NT$57 would mean they would be earning less than the minimum wage per hour.

Couriers would have to work 1.5 times more to earn enough to eat, the protesters said.

Foodpanda Self-help Group convener Liu Yun-cheng (劉雲程) accused the company of unilaterally changing their contracts without first consulting couriers.

The seemingly high pay should take into consideration that couriers have to shoulder other expenses, such as gas, scooter repair and insurance fees, Liu said.

Assuming one makes NT$1,140 per day based on the new payment scheme, couriers would be unable to balance their income and expenditure, he added.

Foodpanda’s claims that couriers could make NT$100,000 per month is a dream that is hard to achieve, he said.

Liu also accused the company of making unreasonable demands, such as having to pay for uniforms and a one-time fee for delivery bags that cannot be returned after one quits.

The demonstrators added that Foodpanda’s unrestricted contracting of new couriers has led to lower orders and squeezed margins for deliverers.

A Foodpanda courier in New Taipei City’s Linkou District (林口), surnamed Chiang (江), said that the company often adjusted payments at will, using the clause “the company reserves the right to make final interpretation of the contract” as an excuse.

The company often forced couriers to “take a break” should they refuse an order, Chiang said, adding that it is more like indentured servitude instead of a contract-service model as the company claims.

A number of collaborating restaurants are also slow in preparing orders, which affects a courier’s capability to take more orders and make more money, Chiang said.

Moreover, couriers failing to meet 90 percent of the order quota per month face a deduction of NT$5 per order and would automatically be assigned to less-busy hours, a new Foodpanda courier said.

The Taichung Labor Affairs Bureau accepted a complaint from the protesters and said it would arrange a meeting between Foodpanda and couriers to come to a resolution.

An employer cannot unilaterally change wages without the consent of its contractors, the bureau said.

The bureau last year helped set up a union for Taichung couriers to assist them in applying for health and labor insurance, as well as for group insurance for accidents that provides a NT$2 million payout per person, bureau Director Wu Wei-chih (吳威志) said.

There are many other unions related to transportation and grocery delivery in the municipality, and self-employed couriers can choose whichever union best suits them, Wu said.

Similar protests were held in northern and southern Taiwan.

Additional reporting by Hung Ting-hung

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