On the Picket Line

Delivery workers score victory over temp contracts, ‘freelancing’

By Natasha Terlexi
and Bobbis Misailides
October 18, 2021

ATHENS, Greece — Delivery workers for the company efood, a subsidiary here of the international company Delivery Hero, won permanent contracts after strike action and a large protest.

The two unions at the app-based company — the Rank-and-File Assembly of Delivery Riders and Trade Union of Workers in Food, Tourism and Hotels — organized a four-hour work stoppage of delivery workers Sept. 22. More than 1,000 workers assembled on their motorbikes and bicycles, wearing their bright red efood uniforms, and flooded the streets of central Athens, to applause and cheers of bystanders.

The work stoppage turned into a 24-hour strike, which paralyzed deliveries here. Workers held similar rallies and demonstrations in several other cities.

The actions protested the company’s sending text messages to 115 workers Sept. 15 informing them their contracts weren’t being renewed. They were told they could continue working if they became “freelancers.”

Thousands of users of the efood app deleted it from their phones in support of the workers. Under pressure the bosses began to backtrack, saying the text message was “wrongly worded” and that participation in the “freelance” scheme was voluntary.

Instead of calling off their action, the unions demanded open-ended contracts for all. They pressed for scrapping the system of two- and three-month temporary contracts that had been imposed on most of the 3,000 workers countrywide.

The company agreed to provide permanent contracts to over 2,016 workers, and to acknowledge their seniority rights. It also agreed to stop hiring temp workers from the ManpowerGroup.