DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) – Food-delivery drivers protesting wage cuts and dire working conditions staged an extremely rare strike in Dubai over the weekend – a mass walkout that paralyzed one of the country’s main delivery apps Given and revived concerns about labor conditions. in Emirates.
The strike began late on Saturday and ended early on Monday, when London-based Deliveroo agreed in a letter to riders to restore workers’ wages to a proposed rate of $2.38 instead of $2.79 per delivery, Which ignited a halt to work as the company tried to. Cost-cutting amid rising fuel prices.
The Amazon-backed firm also backtracked on its plan to increase working shifts to 14 hours a day.
Strikes are illegal in the United Arab Emirates, an autocratic union of seven sheikhs that bans unions and criminalizes dissent. The Dubai government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the strike.
delivery worker in dubai, Those who became a mainstay in the financial center due to the boom in demand during the pandemic have some protection.
To reduce costs, companies like Deliveroo pass responsibility to bike, logistics and contract agencies – a labor pipeline that is prevalent in Gulf Arab states and can lead to abuse. Many poor migrants are in debt by paying exorbitant visa fees to their contractors to secure their jobs.
“It is clear that some of our original intentions are unclear and we are listening to the riders,” Deliveroo said in a statement to the Associated Press. “So we have currently put all changes on hold and will work with our agency riders to ensure that we have a structure that works for everyone and that our agency riders have the best interests at heart.”
The British food delivery service is valued at over $8 billion.
News of the pay cuts at Deliveroo – announced internally last week as fuel costs amid the war in Ukraine and constant supply chain chokeholds – was devastating for 30-year-old driver Mohamedou Labarang.
This was the last straw, he said. Already, he was paying for the UAE’s unprecedented fuel prices out of his own pocket and scraping hard to support a wife and 7-month-old son in Cameroon.
When Labarang logged on to social media, he found that he was far from alone. Soon, he said, hundreds of Deliveroo drivers were organizing on Telegram and WhatsApp.
Dozens of drivers parked their bikes at various Deliveroo godowns in protest, according to footage widely shared on social media. Some closed their apps. Others took rest at their residence and refused to work. Others went to the restaurant and urged fellow couriers to stop mid-shift.
“All around Dubai we saw food getting cold at restaurant counters,” Labarang said. “It went further than anyone thought.”
As a result, the Deliveroo app – one of the most popular delivery apps in the country, especially during the last days of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan – was down substantially over the weekend.
Some drivers shared WhatsApp voice messages with the Associated Press from their managers of contracting agencies demanding that they return to work immediately and “not involve themselves in any illegal activity.”
Aware that they risk detention and expulsion if they strike, the drivers emphasized that their protest was in no way political.
“We know the rules, we know it’s sensitive, it’s not against the UAE,” said a 30-year-old Pakistani driver named Mohammad, who declined to give his last name for fear of retaliation.
But he said he risks his life every day, roaming the dangerous streets of Dubai without accident insurance.
“We are humans,” he said as he got on his motorcycle, returning to grind in downtown Dubai after the strike. “We are not robots.”