Not too long ago, Deliveroo, Food Panda, GrabFood and the likes did not exist and today, I’m sure many of us can’t imagine living without this essential service. Bubble tea in a few clicks? Yes, please.
Food delivery platforms in Singapore have seen a spike in rider signups following the start of 2020, and demand for food delivery continues to boom. With the high level of flexibility, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of workers are turning to doing food delivery. Now, have you ever wondered how it’s like being a food delivery rider? Hint: It’s not a bed of roses for sure.
An acquaintance recently shared this year-old post with me. It has garnered more than 16,000 shares since it was shared on Facebook in May last year. Food delivery rider, Koh shared of his experiences in the post. Being shouted at, long waits at restaurants, bad weather… These are just some of the hardships faced by them – yes, the same issues remain even a year on!
Medical benefits and fairer T&Cs for food delivery riders?
In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared that he was especially concerned about this group of lower-wage workers, who have worked hard as food deliveries shot through the roof during the Covid-19 pandemic, and yet earn modest incomes. The MOM is studying how to give these workers a more secure future.
Just last week, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng hit the streets with Labour MP, Ms Yeo Wan Ling, and spoke to several delivery riders in Ang Mo Kio. Many of the drivers spoke candidly with Mr Ng and Ms Yeo on their concerns as freelancer. Their worries were evident as they chatted with Mr Ng.
A few touched on the lack of medical benefits and insurance coverage. Indeed, as one of the freelancers shared with a concerned Mr Ng, as a food delivery rider, “手停口停“ (“hand stops, mouth stops”: income suffers when work ceases).
Mr Ng shared that NTUC is exploring ways to step in and help deal with issues faced by these riders. He also said the protections that the union will be proposing include fairer terms and conditions for delivery riders, better workplace conditions and safety, and also medical benefits.
During the interview with Mothership, Ms Yeo also shared that delivery platforms do not take care of the welfare of delivery riders fully as these workers are deemed as self-employed. Now, Ms Yeo, who is an adviser to the National Delivery Champions Association (NDCA), has been actively engaging food delivery riders for some time now. NDCA, formed in December 2020, has been working closely with government agencies, and companies to look into the issues concerning our vulnerable food delivery riders. In May this year, the NDCA spearheaded initiatives to open spaces and provide riders with proper rest areas to take their meals. They also pushed for an extension of parking grace periods to alleviate the financial pressures that delivery riders face. All these came about from continuous engagement sessions with the workers themselves!
The NTUC is working on proposals over the next few months to see how the union can ensure adequate protection. As more people move into this area of work, the Labour Movement stresses the importance for the union to make sure that the ground is fair so that this group of vulnerable workers are taken care of, protected and represented.