THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The triple lockdown imposed in the capital city came as a blow to many as a majority of establishments were shut down. Most of them were gradually getting back to business after the initial lockdown period. As hotels and restaurants had to close down during the recent lockdown, the livelihood of delivery agents working for Swiggy and Zomato have been badly affected.Ever since the outbreak, there has been a decline in the number of food deliveries. Last week, a 37-year-old Zomato delivery executive tested positive for the virus, which caused more worry among residents. With the number of cases arising in the district, delivery agents fear that the lockdown will be extended and their income will be indefinitely halted.
Balachandran D S, a Pattom native who has been working with Zomato for the past one-a-and-half years solely depends on this earning to run his family. “I used to have a monthly saving of around Rs 25,000 before the coronavirus outbreak. The business got reduced by one-third and the savings have become meagre. With the recent lockdown, all the agents are unemployed and we are lending money to each other to meet our needs,” he said.
He added that many preferred to order food via Swiggy over Zomato and the acquisition of Uber Eats has increased the number of delivery executives within the company. “Even if the lockdown is lifted, we have to meet the ‘minimum order’ criteria to make a good income. However, the orders will only increase once the hostels, offices and colleges are reopened,” he said. With salary and incentive cuts, Swiggy delivery agents are in a crisis as their company isn’t supporting them during the lockdown.
“There is no intimation from the company. Earlier, I used to earn around Rs 7,000 weekly, which came down to Rs 2,000 to 3,000 recently. Now, my friends and siblings are financially supporting me,” said Kaniyapuram-native Arif Ali. “The business got affected when Technopark was shut down. Though the company has cut down our salary and benefits, we are forced to work as there are no other job options,” he said.
Sajith Krishna, another Zomato delivery agent, said that despite a decrease in orders, the company is still looking to hire more people for delivery. “Since most of the establishments are laying off people, this is the only job which provides a source of income. However, the lockdown has put us in crisis and hiring more people will reduce our earning,” he said.
He also alleged that the company hasn’t dispensed the Covid relief fund they had collected from the customers. “We are waiting for the new orders from the government regarding the lockdown. The agents and their families will suffer if the lockdown is extended for a longer period,” he added.