A section of Zomato delivery partners in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, are protesting against the company’s policies, stating that their income has reduced and that their employee IDs are being blocked if they speak to the media. The delivery partners told TNM that at this point, they have been spending more to work, making the job unviable for them.
The delivery partners even submitted a memorandum to Kerala Labour Minister V Sivankutty asking for action to be taken. It said that Zomato started operations in Kerala around four years ago. “We are getting the same income as it used to be four years ago. Other than this, wages have been reduced through revisions and now that we have to spend our own money to work," the representation read.
It added that they have not had a contact person or a person responsible to whom they can reach out to with their concerns. Delivery partners have no idea about whom to contact, it said. "The company has threatened to block the accounts of those who would raise their voice against it. The company is trying to reduce our benefits. There are fulltime and part time workers in the company. Many of those who work full time are sick and disabled," the memorandum read.
It is important to note that delivery partners are not on a company’s payroll, but are paid per task. Incentives offered by companies vary, but it is usually as promoted as the employees being allowed to choose how much work they want to take on. However, companies have been telling delivery workers that they need to be logged in for a fixed number of hours.
Speaking to TNM, a delivery executive said that until December, they were given an allowance for fuel, daily incentives as well as waiting charges. All of this was removed in December, he said. "The company has begun blocking the IDs of those who have spoken to the media. Ten people’s IDs have been blocked so far,” he said. He added that till December last year the system was that delivery partners would get around ₹450 as incentives daily.
"There was also a Rs 1500 petrol allowance every week. There was also Rs 1 waiting charge for each minute of waiting after the specified delivery time. This is no more there. Also, they have stopped giving us pickup charges too. They claim without incentives we are treated as employees and not agents, but if we’re employees, aren’t we entitled for all kinds of benefits?” he questioned.
In a notice sent by the company to delivery workers on Friday, March 11, Zomato said, “It has been observed that some delivery partners engaging in disruptive activities and stopping other delivery partners from logging in & delivering orders. We request you to refrain from participating in such kind of activities to avoid any legal action and account suspension. For any issues or concerns, please contact your fleet coach. We are here to help you.”