KOCHI: We have all seen delivery boys wearing bright T-shirts carrying square bags zooming through city traffic round the clock. When hotels and restaurants were shut down during the pandemic and going out to buy even groceries was not an option, these executives came to the rescue of every city resident. However, police officials and the state have given them little consideration.
Most of the delivery boys highlight poor working conditions and are satisfied with their earnings despite working overtime, squeezing in maximum number of deliveries and riding long distances.
Ganesh (name changed), a Swiggy delivery executive in the capital city, is one among the many who opened up about the ordeal. “We were already struggling to make both ends meet. Now, the hike in petrol prices has added to our hardship. Our wages are not based on the number of hours spent on the job, but on the number of trips. If we ride for five kilometres, we are paid `25. This includes the distance covered to pick up the order and deliver it to the customer. If we wait at the last location we delivered, we might not get another assignment. So, often we have to wait near restaurants in the city. In this process, we cover more than 5km, but our earnings for a trip remains the same,” says Ganesh, who started as a delivery executive for food aggregator Uber Eats nearly two years ago, and then shifted to Swiggy. Working for almost nine hours daily, he used to earn around Rs 20,000 in the beginning. Now, with the pandemic, he is experiencing a huge slump in his earnings.
“Though we get an incentive of Rs 230 if we earn Rs 850 from orders, it is not necessary that we meet the same target every day. Moreover, we have to bear the vehicle maintenance cost too. Though many delivery executives have taken up other jobs due to these reasons, no effort has been taken by the food aggregators to understand the problems. Some of us are stuck here because no one else is hiring,” says Ganesh.
A recent post on Twitter by a customer, who commented on how food aggregators charged a late fee on delivery executives even while they have been through a road accident, had sparked off discussions online about the attitude of such brands. Last year, Swiggy agents had called for a strike against the drastic cut in incentives. But nothing has changed, claim executives.
“Those delivery agents who protested had to give up their jobs as no action was taken. However, Swiggy has a 24x7 hotline service for delivery partners who face emergencies while on duty. It includes a hotline number, emergency card, a direct link to local police and an ambulance service via an SOS button on the Delivery Partner App,” said another Swiggy delivery partner.
Zomato delivery partners in the state also have similar grievances. Rahul, a delivery partner with Zomato says: “Our incentives were also slashed last year due to the pandemic and they haven’t been restored yet. Even if a restaurant delays the order, we have to face the wrath of the customers. There have been situations where they have harassed us physically, but even then, no action was taken against them.”
Meanwhile, food delivery aggregators Swiggy and Zomato have denied the allegations made by the food delivery executives regarding their daily earnings. They claimed that there are different incentive plans for delivery executives belonging to different cities.
A source from Swiggy says the firm has revised the incentive amount. Zomato, too, opined that the average earnings per order differs from one region to another and depends on an executive’s working hours.
Swiggy offers daily, weekly, monthly incentives. In addition, the earning for each trip is calculated based on variables such as work hours, and the number of orders rejected. For Zomato, it also includes waiting time and distance.
While restaurants, supermarkets and hotels remained closed during the pandemic, delivery executives of various food aggregators such as Swiggy and Zomato were working endlessly to get city-dwellers everything they needed