During the week, Brazilian bicycle and motorcycle couriers working for delivery apps staged a national strike for better pay and working conditions. Their demand is far from utopic: they clamor for improved pay per kilometer traveled, insurance coverage, access to personal hygiene items during the pandemic, and the end of the “blacklisting” of workers who take part in protests.
The major app delivery companies, such as Rappi, iFood and UberEats, are known to identify protestors and reduce their supply of jobs. Meanwhile, they ignore the safety of their workers, putting them at risk in the name of profit.
In Brazil, data shows that the gig economy has been increasing. The number of people working with vehicles — such as taxi or bus drivers and those working for lift apps — increased 29.2 percent in 2018, reaching 3.6 million.
The recent protests shed light on the poor working conditions of these delivery drivers and have received widespread attention, as these on-demand apps have become indispensable during the pandemic phase.
However, despite becoming essential service providers during such an unprecedented time, delivery drivers aren’t treated as such. They are forced to work long hours, for a pittance, and have been left hugely exposed to Covid-19.
Delivery workers have remained on the streets, zipping from one destination to the next, not because they want to, but because there are no other opportunities. Unlike the millions sitting on their couches waiting for their dinner to arrive, they didn’t ask for it.