Contxto – Couriers for Rappi, Uber Eats, and Glovo have a bone to pick with their respective food delivery platforms in Argentina. And they let them and the country’s Ministry of Labour Employment and Social Security know last Friday (8) when they hit the streets in an organized protest.
These deliverers asked for better salaries and improved sanitary conditions to operate. This isn’t the first time this happens either. They’d previously arranged a protest in April making similar demands.
Undoubtedly last-mile delivery platforms have proved crucial in the face of coronavirus (Covid-19). And while the pandemic has highlighted the crucial role these drivers’ services play, it also adds an extra layer of complexity when it comes to their ties with startup platforms.
The delivery platform debate gets more complicated
Mandatory quarantines in Argentina have led to an increased demand for food delivery services. That, coupled with rising inflation rates in Argentina, have led to more work and less pay, according to the protesters.
As a result deliverers demanded a 100 percent increase in their cut for every trip they make.
And if legal ties between platforms and affiliated partners weren’t complicated enough as is, Covid-19 has has taken things to the next level.
Protesters have pointed out that they are being penalized over contactless deliveries. So now they find themselves in a double bind. For one, they’re discouraged from getting physically close to a paying customer. But what to do in instances when they pay with cash? Leave it on the ground? That would be unsanitary.
And how to proceed when it’s raining? Orders can’t be left on the ground.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for platforms either. Rappi, in Argentina, argues that it’s decided to operate at a loss during April and May to satisfy demand. Something that’s certainly jarring for a startup that’s already been struggling to achieve profitability in 2020.
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At the moment, regulations in Argentina do not oblige platforms to establish a formal relationship with their couriers.
But people’s health and well being is at risk when out on the streets. Simultaneously, some analysts argue that if there were an official employer-employee agreement in place, it would hike up business prices and make it more costly for the end-user. So that’s not ideal either.
So the big questions remain.
What is a platform’s responsibility when it comes to its partners? To what degree is a user responsible for taking the necessary precautions to operate? Who is accountable for when things go awry, the business or the individual?
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