In time of confinement, home delivery of food and other products has been essential to avoid exposing yourself to the spread of COVID-19, but this situation operates at the expense of those who do not have guarantees of access to health: the dealers of digital platforms.
They ride bicycles, motorcycles, others on foot, and his work is substantial in the current health emergency, because they prevent people from leaving home and not risk contracting COVID-19. Whether it is to deliver medicine, face masks, pantries or a hamburger, the application distributors work in conditions of unprotected work.
In the meantime, Rappi, DiDi Food, Uber Eats and Without Apron, among others, have no formal and effective responsibility to them by locating them as “Independent service providers seeking additional income at flexible hours“
Although so far no case of a delivery man infected with his work dynamics has been officially disclosedthese They have had to use their means to ensure their protection, together with the support they may obtain from the applications., as explained Saúl Gómez of the collective Neither dealer less in interview with Infobae Mexico, who also indicated that he did not feel safe, but his financial condition forced him to go out to work.
“I do not feel safe, but I understand that my situation is not the same as those people who can stay at home and enjoy their family. I have to go out like many others. Either the virus kills you or hunger kills you”Saúl Gómez, who has been in the job for four years, said.
Hired under a “collaboration” scheme, platform distributors are not recognized as workers in the formal and traditional sense of the term, This implies that they do not have the right to demand social benefits or guarantees of access to health..
That is to say, “they are not subordinate; they do not have defined days; and there is also no consent between employer and worker to perform the job“, in accordance with Carlos Rosas Landa, professor at the Faculty of Law of La Salle, who indicated that there is no effective liability between platform and dealer.
“Your obligation as a collaborator, as a delivery man, is to appear at the place where we indicate you in the‘ app ’to collect the order with a specific number and, take it as you can, to the destination indicated by the application. (Is that) there is no subordination to tell you: you have to come in uniform, present yourself in good condition and roll the attendance list every day, there is no such subordination, there is a collaboration, nothing more”, Explains Rosas Landa, Master in Law from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Thus, the labor law specialist believes that the applications that provide the home delivery service, such as those referred to, take advantage of a legal vacuum, since they have no obligation beyond their functions of connection between two efforts: the one who prepares the food and the one who distributes it to a user.
Therefore, the legal gap comes into debate when the relationship of workers, in this context, borders on the survival of some, based on the exploitation of others: those who do not have formal employee recognition and are another weak link in the labor chain.
The lawyer Rosas Landa explains that, finally, “The employment relationship for the owner of the company or business, translates into seeing the way to return the investment as quickly as possible and increase profits. Meanwhile, for the worker, it is a choice to survive“
When questioned about the obligation of the platforms to attend to the exposure of delivery people in the health emergency, Rosas Landa explained that, Currently, there is no specific regulation that addresses the issue.. Well, these employees of the “gig economy“, Or collaborative economy, they are not even recognized as workers and, therefore, without the right to social benefits.
In addition to that problem, in the current pandemic, delivery people must deal with clients who are not very understanding of the sanitary provisions. There are scenarios where users demand regular treatment, according to Saúl Gómez.
“You send a message to the customer: hey, by recommendation, we need your order to be picked up at the front door of your home. And in the case of a condominium, there are clients who understand and go down, but there are clients who say: no, because I’m paying for a service and if you don’t know how to do it better, don’t do it, so I demand that you come up to my door and Bring my order here, “says Gomez.
Omar Nacib Estefan Fuentes, CEO of Safety and Health of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, noted that the subordination between platforms and distributors was of character “atypical”:” What we observe is that subordination, as a traditional labor element, is not fulfilled in this type of work, it is an atypical subordination, which is added to a social security system that is many years old and seems to be out of date “Said the official, as recorded Forbes Mexico in July of last year.
On the other hand, Rosas Landa stated that a resolution scenario for this problem would be a lawsuit before the Local Board of Conciliation and Arbitration that it will most likely go to federal courts and that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation will define, once and for all, whether the dealers are workers or not.
“It would be very interesting to know what would happen if the (dealer) sued before the Conciliation and Arbitration Board (JCyA), and say: although we are in a collaboration contract, if the elements of an employment relationship are gathered. (Well) all the controversies that appear in the JCyA always end up in the Judicial Power of the Federation, (there it would be seen) the pronouncement of the federal judges on the collegiate courts in relation to a controversy (between distributors and digital applications) ” , Rosas Landa pointed out in an interview for Infobae Mexico.
Applications like Rappi, Without Apron, DiDi Food and Uber Eats have announced protection measures in the event of a health emergency. But some are more oriented to customer protection (something equally necessary), than to the safety of delivery people.
For example, Rappi announced that its “partners”, the so-called “Rappitenderos”, They would comply with security protocols in the transportation and delivery of orders and for this they distributed more than 200,000 antibacterial gels and protective masks. Likewise, the Colombian multinational offered to postpone payments to independent restaurateurs, as well as to postpone the collection of loan installments or financial obligations to those who received support for their expansion.
The Chinese company DiDi He said that he had delivered a guide with sanitation measures in vehicles and care centers. The platform to which it belongs DiDi Food would also have provided security labels to their “Restaurant partners” so that they properly seal each shipment and protect food from particles in the environment.
In turn, he communicated the creation of a USD 10,000,000 fund for your driving partners and delivery men who become infected with COVID-19: “Affected individuals may request financial support from the fund, which may cover a maximum of 28 days of earnings,” said the company. And those “partners” who present a positive diagnosis with the disease would have their accounts temporarily blocked to stop the virus from spreading.
Without Apron, for its part, Announced the Delivery of Disposable Mouth Cover Kits and Antibacterial Gel to Various Points in Mexico City. The notice was via facebook on the collective page Neither dealer less. This support started last March and the company plans a monthly delivery of these kits.
In the case of Uber Mexico, the company communicated via twitter last March that it would send orders for small and medium restaurants for free. AND if any of your delivery “partners” was diagnosed with COVID-19, or to which a public health authority requests isolation, he may be eligible for one-time financial assistance for up to 14 days. In addition to a refund of 120 pesos on products purchased by the “partners”.
Although that sum of supports is plausible, they only depend on the good faith of the platforms and do not derive from a formal responsibility. On the other hand, the use of mouth covers, at least in the Mexican capital, is mandatory, which would force the platforms to follow the local disposition so that their “partners” continue to operate.
As Saúl Gómez refers, “they they do it to look good before society, before the media, but really you notice the interests. If they really wanted to protect us, declare us employees, give us labor rights and thus access the health system. The same and I am doing well or doing badly, but I already know that I am protected ”, he says.
The colective Neither dealer less, for example, he had to use glove kits, covers mouths and small envelopes of antibacterial gel donated by Bicicletas Huffy México. If they were previously unprotected in the event of road accidents, dismissals, or the blocking of accounts without justification, now they are overexposed by the contagion situation of COVID-19. The support of Bicycles Huffy Mexico is added to the help that applications can provide to the dealers.
Neither dealer less groups around 20,000 application distributors throughout the Mexican Republic and emerged in November 2018, according to Saúl Gómez, founding member of the association.
The outlook in other parts of the world
Various countries of Europe and America have registered nonconformities of home delivery people who work through platforms that provide food and other products.
In Italy, for example, the distributors have already protested for being forced to work in the health emergency without conditions of occupational safety. In recent months, various groups have called to claim their rights, some groups have been: Deliverance Milano, Riders Union Bologna, Firenze Riders, Rider per Napoli, Riders Union Roma, Uiltucs Riders and Nidil Riders CGIL Palermo.
Through social networks like twitter and facebook call to demand regulations to the guild of the distributors who work with applications such as Glovo, JustEat and Deliveroo. Well the associations They argue that the delivery of pizza, sushi or hamburgers are not precisely essential goods that justify health risks, even when home delivery is an essential modality in the confinement stage., according to reports from Effimera, Italian virtual collective.
In Latin America there is antecedents of associations and initiatives that fight for a fair regulation of home delivery people. In Chile they have tried reforms through the congress, such is the case of the campaign #MiJefeEsUnaApp; and in Colombia app workers have still complained. In Argentina, delivery men have formed a union after protests demanding labor prerogatives, this is the Platform Personnel Association, announced in October 2018. The Argentine organization emerged after a strike by distributors of Rappi in which they demanded for better conditions of employment.
Other experiences of fighting for working conditions with applications have occurred in Canadawhere the grouping emerged Justice for Foodora Couriers than formed a union of delivery men employed by Foodora, German brand that provides home delivery of food. Foodora is one of the 30 brands associated with the multinational Delivery Hero in the online food delivery branch via digital apps and delivery men. This company, based in Berlin, Germany, operates in 40 markets in Asia, America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, according to its website.
Aid in Labor Disputes Due to the Pandemic
Regarding labor controversies in the current health emergency, La Salle University announced a legal aid mechanism through the Pro Bono Office aimed at those who presented problems due to unjustified dismissal; decrease in salary; denial of payment; contract termination without responsibility for the worker; pandemic rest; must-take vacation; conducting collections; and obligation of attendance of the employee.
The Pro Bono La Salle Office emerged in 2015 as an initiative to support the vulnerable and low-income population that cannot afford a private lawyer service.
In accordance with María del Carmen Cobos Goya, coordinator of the Firm, the project decided to focus part of its attention on the workplace and, on April 28, the Firm offered its usual services to workers with legal problems in the context of the health emergency.
“Currently, derived from the situation that we are facing, both economic and health, unfortunately We saw that a wave of situations in the workplace was reflected, which had as a consequence cases of unjustified dismissals, decrease in wages, rest without pay, denial of pay or, even, there are companies that have forced their workers to attend their work, but without the corresponding sanitary measures, putting them at risk“He mentioned for Infobae Mexico Cobos Goya.
Although the consultancies of the Pro Bono La Salle Office They are via email and by phone, given the current confinement conditions, this area of La Salle could actively follow up on cases after the quarantine has been lifted.
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