It might surprise some people now, but the online food ordering and delivery service Foodpanda began its operations here in the Philippines a few years ago. Only during the bleak, shut-in days of the COVID-19 pandemic in early and mid-2020 did the sight of a pink-uniformed motorcyclist with a heat-retaining box on their back seat become universal throughout major cities of the country, as more people were forced to order food online. One might think the business is booming despite rival platforms appearing, but some riders apparently did not think so. Moreover, the company got wind of these rider’s plans to protest, and slapped them with suspensions lasting 10 years.
CNN Philippines reports that freelance delivery drivers of the Foodpanda service operating in Davao City were suspended by their company last week, a day before they would hold a three-day “silent protest” against Foodpanda from July 14 to 16 on account of gradually reduced income per delivery. The suspended drivers were members of the Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc., and their suspensions were for the duration of a decade, ending only in 2031. DUDRAI co-founder and President Edmund Carillo reported this development publicly this past Monday, July 19, with Foodpanda issuing a statement later.
Carillo explained that an initial 30 Foodpanda riders in their association were slapped with suspensions on July 13, when they have yet to finalize plans for their 3-day “no-show” protest. When the other riders carried out the rally anyway, additional Foodpanda rider accounts were similarly suspended. The DUDRAI has already aired their complaints to Foodpanda over decreasing earnings – for P55 per delivery on average to just over P20 as the pandemic went on – supposedly due to a new distance traveled-based computation, but Foodpanda has not replied to entreaties nor publicized the specifics for computing deliveries.
Foodpanda Philippines instead issued an official statement from their viewpoint later in Monday. They stated that the Davao City riders’ protest plans were violating their freelance work agreement and could further disrupt the wider delivery ecosystem. In this sense, their decision to suspend said riders was difficult but necessary. The company’s pay structure, while not elaborated, was said to consider distance and road routes taken to adjust rates, and that riders also gain fringe benefits from brands partnering with Foodpanda on top of their income, such as fuel, mobile data and merchandise discounts. Already they have “on-boarded” replacements for the suspended riders in Davao City, who must now take a screening process with them for consideration on lifting their suspensions.
Image from Mindanao Daily Mirror