China’s food delivery workers take a stand

Drivers at each of China’s three major food delivery platforms - Waimai, Ele.me, and Meituan – staged strikes and protests last month as pay and working conditions declined further. CLB’s Strike Map recorded four incidents last month in which food delivery drivers collectively took a stand against the non-payment of wages and pressure to perform their already dangerous jobs even faster and for less money.

Years of intense competition has made it difficult for many food delivery companies to make a profit and drivers who once flocked to the industry because of its relatively high wages are now feeling the impact. And conditions are only likely to get worse as more competition takes its toll. In August, Baidu announced it was getting out of the food delivery business and selling its Waimai subsidiary to its rival Ele.me, which is backed by Alibaba, Tencent and Sequoia etc. 

Meituan drivers protest new work rules

Drivers in the southwestern city of Kunming held a demonstration on 5 September protesting harsh new work rules that cut their pay and forced them to work faster.

One driver named Sun reported that pay rates had dropped from 6.5 yuan per kilometre to 4 yuan per kilometre, and that the time allowed for each delivery had been shortened from 43 to 37 minutes. Under the new rules, their pay had dropped from around 200 yuan to 120 yuan per day, he said.

“Am I supposed to drive through red lights?” Mr Sun asked. “Putting this pressure on us is simply toying with our lives.”

Meituan responded by blacklisting four drivers who demanded the company change its policies. A Meituan company representative denied however that the blacklisted drivers had a labour relationship with the company. None of the drivers had labour contracts.

Ele.me sub-contractor fails to pay workers

A group of Ele.me drivers staged a demonstration on a Beijing street on 4 September shouting “Ele.me are liars! Give us back our hard earned pay!”

The protest had been precipitated by the announcement of an Ele.me subcontractor that it could not pay the workers their last two months wages. In total, about 40 workers were owed more than 200,000 yuan.

The subcontractor offered to give the workers his car as payment but they refused. Instead the drivers took their case to the local labour dispute arbitration committee on 28 August. Ele.me representatives promised to take over the mediation but the workers became angry when the company under-calculated the pay they were owed. Immediately following the 4 September protest, Ele.me and the subcontractor held an emergency meeting and promised to pay the workers the following day.

Back to Top