The woes of the delivery couriers are amplified by the extraordinary circumstance that the whole world is in. Unfair pay, prank deliveries, and scarce benefits make their plight even more arduous than it already is.
While we rest in the comforts of our homes waiting for the next parcel to arrive, the delivery man rode in his motorcycle amid the scorching heat or blistering rain, making sure that the boxed goods are delivered safely to their destinations. These delivery riders have since been the backbone of the online delivery system – but it hasn’t been an easy ride.
The Philippines has seen a sudden spike in the e-commerce sector, mostly due to the increasing number of consumers who opted to do online shopping than to buy their goods in establishments where the risk of contracting the virus is heightened. To meet this accelerating demand, online companies have been deploying a number of delivery riders to take the parcels to each of their customers’ doors.
The usual risks that delivery couriers face, such as road hazards and scam orders, have only increased during the pandemic. However, their situation has deteriorated into a desperate fight for survival at a time when their services have never been more needed.
On Delivery Services
Roy Reyes Marino, a delivery rider for J and T express, shared that there is always a sense of danger in their line of work, especially now that pandemic is still ravaging the nation. “It’s difficult. Road safety is not the only thing that we have to worry about. We also have to take into account the health and safety risks because we are delivering the parcel from one place to the next. We can’t see where the virus is, so we are completely blind going into this job,” he said.
The delivery courier also cited other difficulties in making deliveries such as in instances of harsh weather conditions. “Usually, it’s very difficult during the rainy season. The harsh weather is truly an inconvenience because we have to ride through the streets and find the address of the customers in an unfamiliar place while being soaking wet from the rain.”
Marino admitted that these increased risks makes him apprehensive about his job, but he has no other choice because he had to provide for the basic needs of his family. “Jobs are scarce nowadays. The pandemic worsened everything. I don’t have much choice, I got a lot of mouths to feed,” he lamented.
Despite this, the delivery rider remained hopeful and determined, emphasizing his belief in the traditional Filipino value of ‘sipag at tiyaga’ (hard work and perseverance) as his main principle in life and in his current line of work. “I believe in hard work and perseverance, and of course, in this line of job, it should also be sprinkled with a lot of patience on my part,” he said.
On the other hand, food delivery riders are not so enthusiastic about the inconveniences that they had experienced and continue to go through during the pandemic. Food Panda driver, Mark Anthony Moreda for instance, posted on Facebook his latest experience with a scam order. He said that he received a fake booking where he had to make multiple trips from the fast food restaurant to the client’s address and then back to the fast food restaurant again because the client was nowhere to be found to receive the order.
Aggravated, he aired his predicament in a Facebook post, pleading the customers to avoid making fake bookings and consider and how these pranks put the riders in a detrimental situation.
The screenshot of the Facebook post mentioned
“To the people who make fake bookings, I hope that you are aware that we work constantly, rain or shine. This is absolutely uncalled for,” Moreda said.
Call for Protection
Roy and Mark’s plight are just two of the thousands of untold stories from people who work at the delivery service industry. As of now, not much has been done to alleviate their struggles and ensure their safety. The unfair condition in which they have no choice but to live with is a testament to how much development and change is needed in this working sector.
As part of the gig economy, delivery riders are not entitled to the same employment benefits and other forms of social protection as regular employees would have. They are instead considered ‘independent contractors’, which means that they are not entitled to the rights and protection bestowed upon by the Labor Code. Apart from this, being a freelance employee also means that their employers have the ability to fire them at any time without warning. With the absence of a law that will regulate and define their rights, the workers will undoubtedly be more subjected to abuse and exploitation.
There is a clear precedent for enforcing current labor standards on delivery app services and requiring them to treat their critical workers as formal employees – with all of the benefits that entails. In this regard, advocating for a safer and fairer working condition for these riders are crucial especially during this time where much of the citizens rely on delivery couriers to transport their needs.
As much as it has been hard for everyone, we still owe our deepest gratitude to those who have made our lives easier and comfortable during these trying times. The employers and government officials responsible for their fair treatment owe these delivery riders the full protection that the law can offer. As much as we want our parcels to be delivered safely should also be our urge to be one with the delivery rider’s in their call for fair labor policies that will enshrine them with enough protection and dignity in their work.