Food delivery service Wolt drivers continued their strike for a ninth consecutive day on Tuesday, with a protest march towards the Department of Labour Relations demanding better working conditions and higher salaries.
During the protest march on Griva Digeni avenue in Nicosia, the strikers, who were joined by trade union Peo, chanted “we want justice.” Some passersby expressed their support for the strikers by honking their cars.
The strikers and Peo submitted a memorandum with their demands to the Department of Labour Relations.
“We urge you to expedite the process and immediately invite both us and the other parties in mediation, company and agents, to negotiate a collective agreement,” the memorandum read, adding that “each day that passes, workers are put under threat and pressure from their employers to return to work.”
After the protest march, the Department invited the strikers, the trade unions representing them, as well as Wolt and contractor companies to an official mediation meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday morning at 09:30 am.
The drivers have elected a committee which will represent them in the meeting.
A representative of the workers expressed his satisfaction with the intention of the Department to invite the employers’ side to a meeting. “We want the legislation to cover us as well,” he told the Cyprus News Agency.
Sek trade union General Organiser Panicos Argyrides said that the employers’ side has been found violating labour laws. The Department of Labour Relations reached this conclusion after conducting a number of interviews with the strikers, he said.
Argyrides added that it is of paramount importance that the working terms of delivery drivers in online platforms are regulated, as this is a new form of employment not covered by existing legislation.
Asked about the form of employment that should be established, Argyrides told CNA that intermediary contractor companies should not be allowed to operate, as they have been found exploiting workers. “When the platforms were launched, their philosophy did not provide for intermediaries,” he said, explaining that the need for intermediaries rose “because of the need to grant special employment permits, as the majority of workers come from third countries.”
On its part, Peo expressed its solidarity with the workers. In a post on Facebook, it said: “Our experience from the huge antagonism between the companies that manage the online platforms combined with the legalization of the freelancer model by the governments with the EU directives, i.e. dependent work without labor and social security rights, confirms that the profits of these companies are built on the abolition of workers’ rights, on the reduction of wages. The blood of food delivery workers is spilled by dozens of employer crimes, fatal labor accidents for the profits and competition.”
The strikers have been protesting against their wages continuing to be slashed amid increasing fuel costs – which they have to cover themselves – and a higher cost of living.
The strikes started in Nicosia on Tuesday, while strikes in Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca began as the week progressed.
A number of citizens are also reportedly boycotting Wolt.
A striker who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said that what prompted the protests was Wolt cutting their pay to €2.26 per journey.
Working terms were already unfair, the strikers say, with their incomes amounting to €400-€500 per month.
Wolt delivery drivers are employed as freelancers by contractor companies which provide services to Wolt. For each ride, the companies take 30% of the €2.26 the drivers receive from Wolt. Furthermore, as freelancers, the drivers have to cover the whole cost (11%) of their social insurance contribution on their own.
The strikers also noted that they have to buy the equipment they use (jacket, delivery box, helmet) from Wolt.
The strike will continue tomorrow.