Dozens of Hong Kong employees of Deliveroo, a London-based online food delivery start-up that began services here in November 2015, have gone on strike protesting new job rules which they claim will affect their earnings.
On Monday, about 50 delivery workers in Hong Kong Island gathered at a building in Sheung Wan, where the firm’s office is located, and staged a strike until 7 pm, news website hk01.com reports.
The workers, who had been hired by Deliveroo to deliver food for orders placed through its App, vowed to come back on Tuesday and continue the protest.
The strike is expected to result in disruptions to Deliveroo services in a key area, which includes the Central business district.
On Monday evening, a reporter found that the Deliveroo App was unable to accept orders, instead showing a message that read “service temporarily disrupted”, according to hk01.com.
There was no confirmation if the service disruption was caused by the striking workers, most of who were of South Asian origin, or something else.
A delivery person who didn’t want to be identified was quoted as saying that they are normally considered as working and eligible for wages in their working hours, except for a one-hour meal break.
However, under new job rules the standby delivery workers will all not be automatically recognized as on-duty staff, according to him. The company, at its discretion, can decide how many of them are needed. Those who are forced to be offline will earn nothing until they are put back online again.
The new rule will lead to a situation where delivery workers now work three to five hours less than before on average and earn less, said the worker, who described it as amounting to a big pay cut.
Moreover, according to him, Deliveroo had also introduced a marking system under which perceived misdeeds will carry penalty points, which will be used to evaluate workers’ performance. Protesters said it allows the company to have more excuses to deduct their working hours and wages.
He also criticized the company for not offering them vehicles to deliver food. Workers have to arrange their own vehicles, the source alleged, adding that the company doesn’t compensate them for fuel and maintenance expenses.
Asked for its response, Deliveroo claimed that the new e-platform it has launched recently for its delivery workers in fact allows them to choose freely which time periods they want to work and what locations they prefer, helping them better track their income details and earn more as a result.
The company said it is committed to providing its delivery staff flexible work arrangements and reasonable income, according to hk01.com.
If workers have any grievance, they are encouraged to engage with the firm directly and resolve the issues, the company said.
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