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Working conditions - 19.02.2021 klo 15.28

The food courier gets a place - Just Eat Takeaway gives up its employer's position

The giant Just Eat Takeaway, born as a merger of an English and Dutch food transport company, is giving up its employers and hiring permanent staff. Photo: Just Eat Takeaway

Arthur Hay, President of the French Food Couriers Union, believes the self-employment model has come to an end. The industry-leading Just Eat Takeaway has announced that it prefers to hire permanent staff.

Arthur Hay, the founder of France’s first trade union of independent bicycle couriers (CGT Gironde Coursiers Vélo), has waged many labor struggles in recent years for the rights of his profession. The most recent strike was at the time of the lockdown in October.

"Due to the corona pandemic, the situation has worsened further. With almost no other work available, there are many aspiring couriers and platforms can show the door if working conditions or pay are not pleasant."

Hay, who started out as a food courier in the Bondeaux region five years ago, remembers that even at that time, a hard-working courier supported him- or herself with rides comfortably. However, the situation deteriorated rapidly as a number of new companies popped into the industry as the shield began to push rides down. In the Paris region, the ride is currently paid at 5.75 € and in some rural areas the consignor has to ride for less than 3 €.

In addition, some food couriers have invented subcontracting their gigs to paperless refugees, further reducing the pedaler's fee. Although the courier companies' websites are still looking for people who have at least an iPhone ten level phone in addition to their own bicycle or scooter, it can take a long time on these wages to pay for a new smartphone.

Turbulence is surrounding the platform work

In this unfavorable situation for the employee, the decision of Just Eat Takeaway, the market leader in the field, to abandon all-self-employed food consignments struck the industry. Just Eat Takeaway has promised to hire 4,500 food dispatchers in France for permanent employment. It operates in a total of 23 countries and from the Nordic countries it has operations in Norway and Denmark.

According to Arthur Hay, the change of direction is an indication that the operating model is no longer profitable even for the employer. The couriers will have to compensate for the reduction in ride fees by taking more rides, which will cause food to arrive late and cold. The deterioration of working conditions is therefore already a drawback to the customer."

The entrepreneurial model has apparently come to an end. There is currently a bit of turmoil around platform work in every country in Europe," says Hay.

With self-employed status, employers justify the use of food-carrying couriers mainly on the grounds that platform workers value freedom. Do you know a lot of such longing for freedom couriers?

"If you want to support yourself somehow in this job, the freedom is very apparent. The French order lunch between twelve and two and dinner from seven to ten. At other times, it makes no sense to pedal because no one orders food," Arthur Hay notes.

Hay is currently working with a couple of colleagues in the cooperative he founded, which is one way to make taking food rations home profitable.

Read more in Finnish here.

uutisen-teksti: Virpi Latva