In an important effort to improve the labour rights given to food delivery riders employed by an expanding platform economy, the Chinese government-run department for Market Regulation along with six other administrative departments, announced reforms on Monday making it mandatory for the online food delivery platforms to provide an income above minimum pay, insurance and relaxation in deadlines for deliveries to the workers, Reuters reported.
The announcement was made by several departments together including the National Development and Reform Commission, the Cyberspace Administration of China, and the Ministry of Public Security.
The online food delivery platforms in China include companies such as Meituan and Alibaba’s Ele.me.
Chinese government’s move to reduce the precariousness of the gig workers has come at a time when food delivery platforms all across the world including the USA and India have come under severe criticism by delivery workers and labour rights activists and experts for inhuman working conditions and abysmally low income and an absence of a social security net for the workers in the form of any social or medical insurance.
Under the reforms brought about by the Chinese government taking into consideration the demands raised by the workers, the third-party food delivery platforms will have to pay a base income along with social insurance programs for the food delivery personnel. Moreover, the reforms say that all delivery personnel will be allowed to join unions.
Addressing the issue of the assessment of food delivery rider’s performance through a set of stringent algorithms, the Chinese government policy, said the “strictest algorithms” should not be used as an assessment requirement and delivery time requirements should be appropriately relaxed. Along with that, the food delivery platforms are needed to place more effort into ensuring traffic safety for food delivery riders.
Earlier the gig workers in the country had led multiple protests against the e-commerce companies for treating their workers poorly. The latest among these protests happened in March 2021 when e-commerce companies announced that the amount paid to the workers per delivery would be reduced.