A section of delivery agents of online food delivery aggregator Zomato in the capital city have been on strike for the past two days accusing the company of cutting down their incentives, making the work unviable for them especially considering the high fuel prices.
A group of delivery agents met Labour Minister V.Sivankutty on Saturday evening and submitted a memorandum. The Minister promised them to take quick action after consulting with the Labour Commissioner. According to the delivery agents, who are often called “partners” by the aggregator companies, Zomato had unilaterally removed the incentives including pick up charge and waiting charge at the beginning of this year. The company had also introduced compulsory log in for specific hours during the day, failing which fines will be imposed on the agents. This happened after the company had introduced a new gig system to which a majority of the agents have now been shifted. “Earlier they had a system by which we would get around ₹450 as incentives daily. We used to get a minimum ₹25 for deliveries within 5 km and ₹5 for each km after that. There was also ₹1 of waiting charge for each minute of waiting after the specified delivery time. Now, there are no such incentives. Even if we wait for 1 hour now, we won’t get a waiting charge. Also, they have stopped giving up pickup charges too. For instance, if we have to ride 8 km to a restaurant to pick up an order and 2 km to drop the order, we will get paid only for the 2 km to drop off,” says Mohan (name changed), a delivery agent. The agents are also required to book slots 2 or 3 days in advance under the new system, without which they will not be able to work. A ‘medal’ system has been introduced by which ₹10 will be imposed for not logging in during peak hours. This has changed the whole nature of the job, which was initially about the freedom to log in and log off whenever the delivery agents chose to. The zones for delivery have also been expanded forcing drivers to ride long distances for meagre profits. “The company gets around 30% of the sale amount from the restaurant as well as ₹25 to 45 service charge from the customers. But drivers get only a pittance out of this. They call us partners and brand ambassadors, but they charge us ₹250 for their t-shirt and ₹550 for the bag. They get agents through outsourcing agencies when we go on strike. The team leaders also threaten to cancel our cards or even file police cases against us if we raise such issues or protest. Petrol prices have gone up so much and are expected to go up further soon. Now, we have just enough to survive,” said Michael (name changed), another delivery partner.