Latin American delivery app couriers to join Brazilian strike

Latin American delivery app couriers to join Brazilian strike
Multiple Rappi bikes parked outside a restaurant in Lima, Peru. Photo: Myriam B/Shutterstock

Delivery app workers across Brazil are planning a national work stoppage on July 1 over demands for better pay and working conditions. Continuing to make deliveries throughout the pandemic, these professionals are constantly exposed to Covid-19 contagion with no employee benefits to safeguard them.

Couriers in other Latin American countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina have also adhered to the idea, in what could be a continent-wide movement. Among their main demands, workers have asked for higher pay rates per kilometer, basic hygiene protection materials, and health insurance for the duration of the pandemic.

With the spike in demand for home delivery services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, delivery apps in Brazil have taken center stage as an increasingly essential service to many Brazilians. Colombian app Rappi reported a 30 percent increase in service demands in Latin America since the coronavirus first hit the continent.

Yet, on the flip side, delivery app workers have been increasingly exposed to Covid-19 contact while wages have barely increased – in fact, most have seen a decrease in income during the pandemic.

A recent survey points out that 52 percent of motorcycle couriers have had longer working hours while still being paid less in comparison to pre-pandemic times.

As previously covered by The Brazilian Report, higher unemployment rates in Brazil have increased competition with couriers receiving fewer calls than they used to, despite higher demand from the Brazilian middle class for delivery services — a dynamic that only increases the already slanted working imbalance in favor of delivery companies.

Couriers have also asked for a national boycott of delivery services by the population on Wednesday while also promoting hashtags in support of the movement.

Brazil alone is currently estimated to have 4 million active delivery workers.

Yet, courier workers for delivery apps such as the UberEats (U.S.), iFood (Brazil), and Rappi (Colombia) have no labor relations with their employers, which frees companies from the obligation of paying any employee benefits — including basic health insurance. Delivery workers have also complained about the lack of personal hygiene products supplied, with most couriers having to pay for their own masks and hand sanitizer.

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