Labor Unions Reused By Couriers As Food Delivery Services Booms In Russia

Jan 27, 2021 10:30 AM EST | By Kristine M. (

Labor Unions Reused By Couriers As Food Delivery Services Booms In Russia

(Photo : Getty images / Andreas Rentz)

Like many other countries, Russia also faced difficulties due to the global pandemic. Retail players were forced to make drastic changes to keep their businesses afloat. According to The Moscow Times, consumers also changed how they make purchases. Their purchasing habits have shifted in just a matter of days.

There was a surge in online orders all across different products, including food. As a result, the food delivery service became the next big profitable industry ng Russia. Moreover, it also prompted a massive hiring drive by the leading online retailers.

According to related reports in Foosya, two leading delivery firms estimated that around 10,000 food delivery couriers are moving around the metropolis every day. Reports also revealed that younger folks laid off from jobs as retailer clerks, waiters, development employees took up delivering meals to make ends meet.

Couriers vs. Labor Legislation

With the increase in food delivery service jobs, many have been given a chance to earn. However, in hindsight, couriers have no official employment contract according to Russia's labor legislation. This means couriers are subjected to no safety, no advantages, and no means to voice out grievances.

As a solution to this sensitive but urgent issue, couriers are now forced to create a previously used tactic during the Soviet era. A combative commerce unionism tradition could be the answer for these couriers to be acknowledged and heard.

Kirill Ukraintsev, a known unionist, activist, and journalist, said that there had been a rising number of individuals working permanently in the food delivery industry. This industry may now be seen as one of the most profitable fields in the economy, but it does not present much for the couriers.

He explained that couriers have fewer prospects for themselves in today's economy and that in the food delivery business, they are usually the labor pyramid's bottom level. The couriers are often exploited, but with commerce unionism, that can be potentially changed and improved.

Read also: Starbucks To Help Washington State Speed up Its COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Working As A Courier

One courier stated that working in a food delivery business allows him to choose his working hours. Additionally, he mentioned that there is plenty of work available, so couriers can work as much as they can. He said that this gives him a sense of freedom in a way.

The moment he accepts the order, he is paid a set quantity based on the time and distance to the designated restaurant, meals, and shipping it to the shopper. However, for every delay, he will be fined. Additionally, switching off the GPS for more than an hour will result in salary cuts.

Furthermore, He will also be fined if he refuses to accept an incoming order. With an average of 240 hours of working time every month, he gets paid $680. With that amount of money, the couriers are exposed to external dangers without any type of protection or guarantee from the company.

This is why Ukraintsev decided to create a labor union for food delivery employees six months ago. The union aims to achieve two things: the abolition of fines and the right of couriers to sign formal employment contracts.

Related article: To Drink or Not To Drink? Russians Are Discouraged To Drink Alcohol After Sputnik V Vaccine

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