Foodora strikes in Italy: the dark side of the sharing economy


from libcom: Foodora in Italy …It’s been sold for a figure of several tens of million of euros yet Foodora has the typical appeal of a startup: young and friendly international people working in an open space office in Berlin and young students delivering food by bike as an easy side-job.

It landed in Turin as a mirror image of the Berlin base. The managers, all under 30, meet every so often in a co-working space in the city center, are informal and speak using English words. The fleet of couriers are also young, educated, and are paid €5 per hour.

This image started to crack when in August Deliveroo couriers in London went on strike and a month later their counterparts in Paris also protested. The reason was, oversimplifying, that once the company had attracted enough “workers”, pay shifted from a fixed scheme to per-delivery compensation only.

Ever since the company opened in Italy, workers had been meeting and talking to one another informally, especially where they are waiting for new deliveries. They had held informal assemblies, sometimes even meeting with management in order to discuss many issues. When a change in contract similar to London and Paris happened at Foodora in Turin, the protest flared up.

The usual problems affecting all delivery workers are that deliveries may be in harsh weather conditions and usually involve moving a lot (60-80 kilometers per shift in Foodora’s case). Nor is it new that there are long waits for the food to be ready or the next delivery.

There are, though, completely new aspects connected to the digital nature of the work relationship. Working time is 24/7 meaning there is no such thing as work/non-work division. Riders can theoretically decide when they are available, though they do not know whether they will actually work as the management decides to accept, modify or even delete the shifts, at any time, even during the shift itself.

As an algorithm decides in real time the work rhythms (according to volume of requests and positions of the couriers), there are hours of absolute rush and hours of complete stand-still. Not to mention that both bike and phone are provided by the courier, with all the related costs of maintenance and repair.

In some interviews workers even mentioned privacy issues as continual geo-localization goes against privacy law, especially if done by an app from the Apple and Google Play stores.

All of this for €500 a month, working 25 hours a week.

Full article here

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