The motorcycle riders’ rights group Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to issue an order on the employment status of app-based riders in the light of the recent decision by a National Labor Relation Commission (NLRC) arbiter. The arbiter ruled that seven Foodpanda riders based in Davao were regular employees of the app and found the company guilty of illegal dismissal. The labor case stemmed from the suspension by the app for 10 years of 43 Foodpanda riders who planned in July 2021 a “log-off” protest over low pay.
“This is a landmark decision in clarifying the employee-employer relationship of app riders. We urge the DOLE to settle the issue by issuing an order based on this decision. It is long overdue,” insisted Don Pangan, Kagulong secretary general.
He added that “We are also calling on the DOLE to deliver its commitment to convene the Technical Working Group involving rider’s groups, trade unions, worker’s organizations and concerned government agencies as agreed upon the tripartite consultations convened in the build up to Labor Day 2021.”
Kagulong had long advocated for recognizing app riders as employees so they can enjoy the protection of labor standards and rights, including social protection and job security. The group earlier criticized the Labor Advisory 14-21 issued by the DOLE in July 2021 that did not resolve the dispute. The Labor Advisory was issued in the wake of the Davao Foodpanda labor row and other disputes involving app riders.
In November 2020, Kagulong led some 700 Foodpanda riders in a protest action at the DOLE national office to seek resolution of their grievances over reduced pay and unsafe conditions DOLE officials who met leaders of Kagulong and the Metro Manila Foodpanda riders promised to act on the complaint.
The Foodpanda protests in Davao and Manila correlate with a global study (http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/iez/16880.pdf), which found out that food delivery riders launched the greatest number of protests among app or platform workers. The most prominent grievance concerned pay although employment status also figured as a secondary issue. In Asian countries such as Indonesia and India, gig workers have formed associations or unions. Similar organizing and struggles by food delivery riders in Europe, Australia and Latin America was also revealed in the study.
August 2, 2022