Colombian start-up Rappi, often described as an “Uber for things,” is the first online delivery app to have its workers go on strike due to poor working conditions. According to the employees, the app that promises to deliver products to your door in less than 35 minutes refuses to take their safety into consideration.
The primary complaint put forward by the RappiTenderos (those who deliver the products) is that new recruits are assigned better trips than those who have more experience. Essentially, they’re cycling more but earning less money.
Roger Rojas, the spokesman of the RappiTenderos, has confirmed: “With the new update, the new guys have a lot of work and we have been here a long time and get told to do just three or four kilometers. I’m in Palermo and I get an order to Caballito. I know it’s more than 50 blocks because I’m pedaling up there for AR $35. If I don’t take the trip, they contact me from the call center to pressure me. They’ll then lower my ranking, and I don’t get assigned any orders in the future.”
The Union of Motorcyclist Messengers and Services (ASiMM) suggest that this protest is due to the “lack of criteria from the company.” According to internal sources, employees initially have to work under the table (colloquially referred to as “en negro“). Once they become more experienced and gain more cash, the company only offers them the option to become a Monotributista (similar to an independent contractor). This, however, is a method used by companies to avoid paying larger sums of tax for their employees. Unfortunately, it only covers the health insurance of the registered worker – hence, many families still need to pay out of their own pocket to access medical treatment.
Gabriel Acevedo, Secretary at ASiMM, adds: “We want to accompany the workers who protest outside the entrance of the company because there is a lot of mismanagement: unilateral changes in working conditions, make workers’ pay for the uniform and responsible for job security, but all the investment goes to marketing.”
There have been numerous companies that have disembarked in the City of Buenos Aires to offer services provided by independent workers. Among those are Treggo, Glovo, PedidosYa, and Mercadoni. Glovo stands as Rappi’s main competitor in the food delivery war because they both copy the Uber business model – workers using their own vehicles, all organized through an app.
- Read more: Rappi and Glovo Launch in Buenos Aires
Rappi offers many products from supermarkets, kiosks, and restaurants; it even has a section for less traditional requests to keep users happy and engaging with the app. The director of Rappi’s expansion in Argentina, Fabián Gómez, has said: “We have examples of very strange requests, such as a user who needed a person to chop onions [for them] and another that required a player to compete with him on PlayStation. In both cases, we got a RappiTendero to complete the task.”
While users enjoy all the benefits of quick affordable delivery, the RappiTenderos struggle to sustain a quality standard of living. If the company isn’t able to offer better working conditions for their employees, further repercussions are likely to occur in the future.