Food-delivery motorists in Dubai launched a rare strike during the weekend, carrying out a mass walkout that crippled one of the UAE’s major delivery apps and revived worries regarding poor working conditions.
The strike took place on Saturday evening, 30 April and ended on Monday, 2 May, when London-based Deliveroo decided in a letter to riders to revive worker’s wages to $2.79 per delivery rather than the proposed rate of $2.38 that launched the work stoppage as the company tried to cut prices amid rising fuel prices.
The Amazon-backed company also reverted to its plan to expand the working shifts to 14 hours every day.
Deliveroo said in a statement, “It is evident that some of our original intentions have not been clear, and we are listening to riders. Therefore, we have halted all changes and will be working with our agency riders to assure we have a structure that works for everyone and has our agency riders’ best interest at heart.”
As per a federation of seven sheikhdoms that bans unions and criminalizes dissent, Strikes are illegal in UAE. The Dubai government has not yet commented regarding the strike.
To lessen cost, companies like Deliveroo outsource logistics, bikes and responsibility to contracting firms, a labour pipeline that persists around Gulf Arab states and can further lead to mistreatment. Many disadvantaged migrants are pushed into debt by paying their contractors excessive visa fees to safeguard their jobs.
According to footage widely shared on social media, dozens of drivers parked their bikes outsourced by various Deliveroo warehouses in protest. Some shut down their apps. Some rested at their home and declined to work. Others went to restaurants and advised fellow couriers to stop mid-shift.
Subsequently, the Deliveroo app, which is one of the most popular food delivery apps in the UAE, mainly during the final days of the holy month of Ramadan, especially was down during the weekend.
Some drivers also stated that they received Whatsapp voice messages from their managers at contracting firms asking that they go back to work immediately and don’t get involved in any illegal activity.
Riders were aware they could face detention and expulsion for striking, so they stressed their protest was in no way political.
A 30-year-old Pakistani rider named Mohammed, who denied disclosing his last name, said, “We know the rules, we know it’s sensitive, this is not against the UAE.”
As he mounted his motorbike, he further said, returning to Dubai after the strike, “We are human. We are not robots.”