Hong Kong Foodpanda delivery workers strike over cuts to their earnings

Workers for food delivery platform Foodpanda have gone on strike in Hong Kong over recent cuts to their income after the company introduced a new way of calculating earnings.

The action, which saw riders refusing to accept orders, began on Saturday evening and continued through Sunday. Workers involved said they would not accept orders for Pandamart – the delivery platform’s grocery service – from Monday to Friday, and would strike again next weekend if Foodpanda refused to negotiate.

A delivery worker who gave his name as Boss met reporters on October 15. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

Workers who participated in the strike said their income had been reduced after the company introduced a new distance calculation method about two weeks ago. In a statement, Foodpanda said that the new mechanism “directly addresses” earlier feedback from the delivery fleet and it was “not launched with the intention to reduce overall service fees.”

The new system – which uses Google Maps data to determine the actual distance covered by a rider instead of the linear delivery distance – was part of the company’s promised changes after 300 delivery workers went on strike in November last year.

On Saturday night, around 50 Foodpanda workers met the press outside Pandamart in Kowloon Bay. Speaking on behalf of the group, a delivery worker who gave his name as Boss told reporters that their income was now “at least 30 per cent lower” than their average wage a year ago.

KK’s bicycle and delivery bag. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

According to Boss, delivery workers in “most areas” participated in the strike. “There would certainly not be less than 1,000 [participants],” he said. However, he said he could not provide reporters with the exact number for fear of “retaliation” from the company.

“We understand that businesses in Hong Kong can operate freely. They should not be interfered with and should be making money. But stop exploiting us,” Boss said.

Another delivery worker, Ahmad, added that the company said last November it would introduce the new distance calculation method within six months, but in the end it took almost 11 months. The system was launched on September 29.

After the launch, Ahmad said the company “immediately” lowered the distance component of their wage. “We are forced to go very far… for [much] less money,” he said.

Delivery worker Ahmad. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Workers taking part in the strike raised a total of 10 demands. Apart from wage adjustments, Foodpanda was also asked to allow fleet members to freely reject or pass over orders, improve insurance, compensate workers for time spent waiting for orders to be prepared and offer bonuses for orders delivered in extreme weather.

On Sunday evening, the group met with the press in Tuen Mun and announced they would continue their industrial action by boycotting all Pandamart orders across the city from Monday to Friday. The workers said they were planning on striking again over the coming weekends or until the company are willing to negotiate.

Further optimisations due

In response to the workers’ actions, FoodPanda said in statement on Saturday night that it had addressed all 15 demands raised during last year’s strike.

“We understand couriers’ concern about their income, but none of our initiatives were launched with the intention to reduce overall service fees,” the statement read.

A leaflet about the FoodPanda fleet strike in November 2021. File photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

According to the delivery platform, Foodpanda has invested 17 per cent more into distance service fees since the new calculation method was introduced. It added that the delivery fleet on average received higher service fees for all vehicle types in all zones.

The statement also said that Foodpanda’s operations team had visited 20 zones in person to collect feedback from delivery workers but “were disappointed to see only a few couriers join those sessions.” In addition, the company said face-to-face meetings with its fleet were held weekly at its Rider Hub in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The company also told HKFP that the “minimum base compensation component” for fleet members had remained unchanged since last November.

However, after the introduction of the new system, the company “noticed that there were some adjustments that still needed to be further optimised.”

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