Monday, June 5, 2023

Delivery workers in Dubai celebrate a second strike in a month

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) — Food delivery people in Dubai claiming low incomes and inadequate protection have gone on strike, the company said Tuesday, the second walkout in as many weeks in an emirate where dissent is illegal.

Foreign workers hired by Talabat, the Middle East division of Delivery Hero, went on strike Monday night after organizing on social media.

Many said they were asking for a modest increase in payments above the $2.04 per order they now charge, amid rising fuel prices. That fee is less than what sparked another unusual strike last week among independent Deliveroo couriers.

Deliveroo couriers are charged $2.79 per delivery, after the strike forced the UK-based company to halt plans to cut payments to couriers and extend hours. Strikes and unions remain illegal in the United Arab Emirates, where controversy over working conditions has grown in recent years.

Videos shared on social media showed dozens of Talabat delivery men gathered in vacant lots next to their parked motorcycles at dawn. It was unclear how many had participated in the strike, which forced the company to admit it was experiencing “operational delays” on Tuesday.

Talabat, owned by Germany-based firm Delivery Hero, confirmed the stoppage in a statement to The Associated Press, saying the company was “committed to ensuring delivery drivers can continue to rely on our platform to provide for their families.”

“Until last week, the satisfaction of the delivery men with the payment was well above 70%,” added the firm, without determining how it had obtained that figure. “However, we understand that the economic and political reality is constantly changing and we will always listen to what the drivers have to say.”

Several Talabat delivery men on strike said they hoped to get an increase to about $2.72 per delivery, especially under pressure from rising fuel gases, which they face in the first place. Many ride 190 to 250 miles (300 to 400 kilometers) a day.

They also mentioned other expenses, such as visa fees for intermediaries who got them jobs in Dubai, tolls, motorcycle maintenance costs and hospital bills.

That leaves the workers, who are part of the large foreign workforce in Dubai – mostly from countries in Africa and Asia – with little money left over to pay rent and send back to the families they support.

Although the United Arab Emirates tries to portray itself as a cosmopolitan destination for foreign workers, it draws persistent criticism from human rights groups for the long hours, harsh working conditions and relatively low wages suffered by low-skilled workers in the country.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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