Hundreds of food delivery workers in Dubai went on strike against Deliveroo’s long working hours and yet low payments
Many Deliveroo riders in Dubai went on a strike this Sunday to protest against their pay cuts and long working hours. The day was also marked as International Labor Day, or May Day across the world.
The strike started as a reaction to the discriminatory changes in policies earlier announced by the company. It continued for hours, causing a huge disruption in deliveries from this food delivery company in Dubai. The angry workers believe that Deliveroo’s new policies are in drastic violation of the United Arab Emirates’ labor law.
Low payments, long hours of work, as well as weak health insurance, were among the main reasons for the protests.
Naeem Iqbal, one of Deliveroo’s workers, wrote in a post on Twitter that the company is “not providing us our legal rights according to law and decreasing rates while petrol prices are going up every month,”.
Also referring to the discriminatory law regarding working hours, Iqbal said the number of working hours had also increased to 11 or 12 hours a day. “We are human[s] not donkey[s],” he added.
This is while according to the UAE’s labor law, “the maximum working time is 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week.”
The strike yield results
After a few hours of the strike, the company issued a statement saying it would revert policies to what they were before. It sent the statement via email to restaurants in reaction to the protest.
In the email, Deliveroo said it had paused implementing the newly proposed changes; “Riders are striking and refusing to attend their shift or deliver orders. So we need to protect Deliveroo rider earnings to remain the most competitive in the market,” Deliveroo told restaurants. In yet another statement issued this Monday to save its face, Deliveroo said: “Our initial intention with the announcement was to propose a more well-rounded structure for rider earnings in addition to other incentives. It is clear that some of our original intentions have not been clear and we are listening to our riders.”
The company also added that it would work with riders to find a “structure that works for everyone”. Deliveroo is an online food delivery company first founded in London back in 2013.
The food delivery company now operates in more than two hundred different places in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
This is not the first time Deliveroo has been accused of exploiting its workers who are mostly migrants.
The same story happened last year in London when Deliveroo workers in the UK’s capital went on a similar strike, protesting against low wages and the right to holidays and sick pay.
Concerns for workers in Gulf states
Human rights groups have for long been rebuking the UAE and other Gulf states for human rights issues about laborers.
They have expressed grave concerns over the way these states treat low-paid migrant workers who make up a large part of the workforce.
Good to mention here that the United Arab Emirates’ economy faced a shrink of more than 6% last year due to the coronavirus-related restrictions; “The country’s economy is linked through foreign trade, foreign investment, tourism and the logistical sector with the movement of trade and investment and global transportation, which declined significantly in 2020 worldwide,” the UAE’s Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre said in a report back then.