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(en) Poland, ozzip, Workers Initiative: The Glover strike [machine translation]

Date Thu, 27 May 2021 09:56:00 +0300


Glovo started operations in Spain in 2015. ---- Glovo embodies the Darwinian philosophy of "the toughest will remain." Wages are low, work is dangerous, long and extremely tiring physically. Couriers working for this type of company rebel and go on strike. ---- You get up in the morning, you get ready quickly and prepare for the beginning of the change. You can actually get up at any hour, as Glovo advertises itself as a very flexible platform. You choose the hours of cooperation yourself. Sounds great, doesn't it? In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related crisis on the labor market, such work was and is a salvation for many. ---- How to become a Glover? ---- Indeed, Glovo and the brokers sign a deal with everyone, whatever it is. Everything online, mobile, remote and smart. Actually, the only requirement to become a Glover (courier) is to undergo "training" (which is actually a test of listening comprehension) and have the appropriate documents (certified Polish citizenship or similar documents entitling economic immigrants to work). Then, all you have to do is wait for the equipment necessary to start "cooperation" (a yellow backpack with a visible company logo, a waterproof case and a bicycle rack for a phone, a Bankable credit card and a power bank). Now just book the hours when you will be delivering food and on your way!

Simple? Well, not really. The proverbial stairs begin here. The provided power bank does not work as it should, and you cannot even log in to the application. You don't know where to appear or who to talk to. Glover is on its own. You have to guess everything and look for answers on the Internet. Glovo defends himself by claiming that most of the information was provided during the training. However, the time between this "training" and the delivery of the package with the equipment and the start of the actual work is about two weeks. It's easy to forget a lot of details from the instructional videos. Training in real work is something that Glovo does not.

Glover trains himself. He analyzes the information provided on the phone screen, asks colleagues waiting in the line for food with him. It's all about trial and error. This is my first objection. Traditional training would save a lot of stress for the new Glovers. It would also eliminate the problem of duplicate mistakes made by couriers even three months after the start of cooperation. I understand that here the company embodies the Darwinian philosophy of "the toughest will stay".

Glover, I forged my own destiny

Like Uber Eats, Glovo is advertised as a convenient way to earn extra money and combine business with pleasure. He describes his employees as "associates" and calls the delivery of food from the pub to the consumer "an order". We know well that this is only marketing calculated to make the courier feel that he has actually started a new stage in his life and is the same blacksmith of his fate as Elon Musk once did.

What are the realities? You can cooperate on the basis of a B2B contract. Then Glover is self-employed, is a sole trader and provides a delivery service for Glovo. The second option is to sign the contract through an intermediary. There are a dozen of them. This works in the same way as signing a contract by an employment agency. What's more convenient? It depends on the perspective. Wages for self-employment are not much higher than through an intermediary. By the way, Glover is responsible for paying taxes, paying ZUS, etc. By signing a contract with an agent, we are limited by the number of hours we can book in the calendar. In the case of my cooperation with Go Eats, I have great reservations about the timeliness of payments, I do not receive any "receipts" by e-mail (I have to ask), and telephone contact is difficult.

This extra money (on salary or after school) is also bad, because every Glover will find out that the more he works, the easier it is for him to reserve working hours. By earning extra money only on weekends or in the afternoons, couriers are not guaranteed to work in hours that would suit them. The weaker, less productive Glover also has worse opportunities to book convenient times and takes what is. For example, theoretically, you can book working hours in a schedule between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM on Monday and Thursday, but in practice there is nothing to choose from around 5:30 PM. In smaller cities, the available working hours are spread out within 20 minutes! You can also book something out of the way, if someone has disabled the booking from the calendar (a simple click), or when they call during working hours.

So the way it works is that the more and better you work, the better your Excellence Score is. The higher the Excellence Score, the sooner you can book convenient working hours. Until recently, this system was discriminatory against people who could not work for a long time. You're not working - the Excellence Score drops. If you are sick and are given time off, you must contact Glover Support so that you don't drop your Excellence Score.

Are there any benefits? There aren't any. There is no paid leave, no such thing as L4, no carp. I thought that since we are on the front lines of a pandemic, they would guarantee us some kind of immunization program. And where there! It's good that my broker pays contributions and I am insured with the National Health Fund. What in the event of an accident during working hours? I am insured? No. You can insure yourself through an external Spanish insurance company, but of course it costs money.

Digital technology and physical exhaustion

Glover's gear obviously doesn't belong to him, it is loaned to him by the company. A relatively high deposit is deducted from the first paycheck. As I mentioned, my power bank, which I received in the welcome pack, was completely useless (I use two private ones, same with USB cables for charging). The frame with the smartphone case also did not withstand the weight of the phone and the power bank, fell off, fell, until it was finally lost. The thermal backpack is not of good quality, 2-3 months later the key elements must be replaced or sewn together, the cost of repairs is comparable to buying a new one. After five months of work, the backpack is basically in a moribund state and is only suitable for the garbage. Of course, buying a new one is at Glover's discretion. Like most other tools of his work.

What is he taking? Whatever. You can by car (then you can also count longer routes; the longer the route, the higher the rate for the contract), scooter, bicycle, scooter, skateboard. Anything, even on foot. (Ask why the competition, Pyszne.pl, can somehow afford bikes for couriers and not Glovo?). Condition one: to deliver quickly and deliver food while still warm. Of course, you have to guarantee the means of transport yourself, as well as pay for its servicing and (in the case of a car or a scooter) fuel yourself. Statistically, car drivers earn better wages due to longer routes, but they also have to pay a lot for fuel and service. There are no situations like in the case of traditional courier companies, where the employee is provided with a delivery vehicle and the company pays for refueling.

Many of my work colleagues also buy purely working phones. The reason is simple: your cell phone breaks down at work - you are "in space". The operation of the Glover application is also different and often prevents the couriers from efficiently performing their work (especially the error with the inability to accept orders, because the application "crashed"). The method of calculating earned money can also be flawed. Many of these bugs are not immediately fixed by Glovo because it just pays off for the company. Contact with service desk agents is not pleasant.

What about the work itself? It is very tiring. Non stop you on the road, you get tired of traffic jams (driver s ), many cyclists choose to break the rules in order to provide faster customer order. In case of worse weather conditions (frost, snowstorms, downpours, strong winds) it is easy to catch a cold. If you want to earn enough money to get something around the national minimum by bike, you have to slide for 8-14 hours a day on all days of the month. I tried it myself and developed only symptoms of overwork, including extreme irritation and diarrhea.

You choose the hours, but you do not choose the orders yourself, you are assigned to them. If I had only to earn some extra money "after work" in this way, I would be damned to the thought of a very pleasant trip along the leaky roads of Marysin in Lódz, where you can break the suspension, decentralize the wheel, not to mention a hole in the inner tube. Earning extra money is also limited by a poor excellence score (few hours worked). So it looks average. Let's add random situations to this (annoying customers, restaurant employees and what else you can imagine).

Why are the couriers on strike?

Ultimately, what I miss, however, are fixed working hours, fair fixed salary, paid holidays and L4, employment contracts. Unfortunately, the Glovo business model (the so-called gig economy) does not allow this. Leaky labor law of many countries in the world (including Poland) contributes to this. These things would really improve the living standards of many Glovers. The platform requires constant work, commitment and development, but offers nothing in return. Except, of course, low earnings.

So you will ask what the striking Glovers were about. Glovo's business model looks like this: when they open a branch in a given city, they start out with guaranteed hourly wages. After attracting more employees, they remove the so-called guarantees and replace them with earnings depending on the executed orders (number of orders, route length, order waiting time, etc.). In letters to employees, they argue their actions "to eliminate unfair practices among Glovers and enable development and higher earnings for the more ambitious." Obviously, both arguments are just so much eyewash. In fact, it is about neo-liberal profit maximization and increased use of human resources. Whoever leaves, the caravan goes on.

The brave Glovers from Gdansk and Bialystok did not agree to such changes and decided to strike. An article from Spidersweb was circulated all over the internet about how this strike was quelled - with a "ban" on the platform. As stated, "one click". They were excluded from work as if from an internet forum. With the way those hiring the right to strike Glovo strange coincidence did not work.

P rzeciez however, as you do not like it, you can change the job! Free way! The problem is that under capitalism you have to work to get enough to eat and sleep. Many Glovers simply do not have any other way of finding employment in times of pandemic crisis. For many, this is the only job opportunity. Besides, some standards should apply. For example, I dream of taking L4 in case of illness, without stress about whether I will earn money during my treatment in bed. It would also be nice not to pay for bike repairs. I guess I'm asking too much ... But let me cut my head that the revenues (especially in the era of closed restaurants and quarantines) received by the Spanish startup Gl o vo are enormous.

Kamil Stepak

Lodz Environmental Commission OZZ Employee Initiative

https://www.ozzip.pl/publicystyka/spoleczenstwo/item/2784-strajk-gloverow
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