Platform-based Food Delivery Riders Want Union Representation, Says Survey

Findings reveal that platform workers want a ‘union body’ to represent their interests; top concerns include income stability, CPF contribution and job stability.
By Shukry Rashid 06 Sep 2022

According to a survey commissioned by NTUC-affiliated National Delivery Champions Association (NDCA), the majority of platform-based freelance food delivery riders in Singapore want representation.

Seventy-nine per cent of the 302 respondents said they wish for a ‘union group’ to represent their interests, support them in negotiating fair contract terms and resolve order issues with platforms.

Market research firm Ipsos conducted the survey through face-to-face interviews between 15 February and 8 March 2022 to gain insight into the concerns of food delivery riders.

NCDA said that because platform workers are not classified as employees, the association does not have the same legislative prowess as trade unions.

However, NCDA added that it has been calling for more robust legislative backing to better represent platform workers, who “are subjected to a high degree of control by platform companies.”

NDCA Advisor Yeo Wan Ling said that the pandemic has highlighted the essential role of delivery workers play and the challenges they face.

She added: “Now more than ever, there is an urgent need to represent them, which is why the NDCA has been calling for stronger legislative backing.

“We will continue to work closely with various stakeholders, such as the Government and platform companies, to make this a reality so that we can safeguard our delivery workers’ livelihoods and ensure that they have a fair and sustainable working environment.”

Concerns of Platform Workers

The survey showed that the top concern of delivery riders is income stability.

With food deliveries as their only or primary source of income, nine in 10 respondents said they are concerned for their future and ability to fulfil their financial responsibilities.

Most of them see a need for an additional side income to supplement their earnings. Almost half of the respondents said they would proceed with making their deliveries despite unfavourable conditions as it would otherwise affect their income.

Platform workers are subjected to terms and conditions set out by platforms and have to bear penalties should they fail to comply.

NDCA has been working closely with platform operators to ensure fair earnings for delivery workers by reviewing commission structures and making incentive structures more transparent.

The association added that there should be adequate notice to communicate planned changes to the structures and that any adjustments should not be passed on as additional costs to delivery workers.

The survey also showed that the other top two issues respondents are concerned about are a need for CPF contribution and job stability.

Insufficient Insurance Coverage

About a third of the 21 per cent of respondents who have made an insurance claim with platform companies’ personal accident plan find the coverage insufficient.

Of the respondents who find coverage insufficient, up to 40 per cent of those who have made an insurance claim before or those without personal insurance are willing to top up in return for better coverage.

Despite being susceptible to accidents in wet weather conditions, food delivery riders are vulnerable as they cannot claim for work injuries under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA).

NCDA said medical coverage provided by platform operators is currently inadequate and uneven, and that the survey findings recommend a review of the protection for riders and the possibility of extending WICA to them.

NCDA said platform operators should provide proper accident insurance coverage for all riders, including new and entry-tier riders.

The association added that coverage must cover medical expenses, loss of income, and unfortunate situations such as loss of life and total permanent disability.