Delivery workers’ plight: One of many vulnerabilities of fast food workers

WHAT happened to the hapless Jollibee rider who was tricked by someone who made it appear that the food delivery was late – to avail of the P200 gift certificate and pay only a small amount to cover the balance in the bill – shows how vulnerable the fast food workers are, but not so much from callous customers but from the many anti-worker practices in the fast food industry.

This was stressed by the Respect the Fast Food Workers Alliance (RESPECT!) following that incident that was revealed and boasted by the culprit himself on Facebook under the name of “Jay Bee,” which became viral and earned the ire of the netizens.

One main concern of those who took pity on the rider was that the gift certificate (GC) will be deducted from his salary, which RESPECT described as an added burden for him amid the serious and widespread problems of “cheap wage and contractualization” and other related policies in the fast food industry.

While Jollibee issued a statement denying that the GCs are charged against the riders’ salaries, RESPECT has documented cases where riders from several Jollibee branches, mostly in Quezon City, have been subjected to salary deductions or “on-the-spot payment” of GCs for failure to deliver on time the food ordered by customers – even because of unavoidable circumstances like heavy traffic and bad weather.

RESPECT observed that the other common denominator for these riders is almost all are non-regular workers and were hired through employment agencies, which reflect the rampant “use and abuse” of contractual labor who are easily terminated from work or with no security of tenure, have lower wages and benefits, and not allowed to join a union.

However, RESPECT noted that these problems are not exclusive to the riders and to Jollibee but also affect the vast majority of fast food workers, majority are in their youth, who suffer from the indiscriminate “endo” (end of contract) or precarious jobs, “charity work” or free work rendered by the workers from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day, zero hour contracts, among others.

These anti-worker and anti-union practices, whether official or unofficial, have one underlying capitalist goal: to amass greater profits and thus referred to by RESPECT and the trade unions as “wage theft” – or the fruits of labor that are “stolen” from the workers.

RESPECT is a member of the national labor center Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) and the Geneva-based IUF or the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations.

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