Zomato Delivery Guy Seen Eating Customer's Food: Why The Debate Needs To Be Broader
A recent video showing a Zomato delivery Man eating from a customer’s order, in no time, went viral on the internet. Expectedly, many questioned Zomato, prompting the company to terminate the person from the company. The company said that it took “food tampering very seriously”, adding that while it understood it was “human error in judgement”, they have taken him off the platform.
While it is definitely dereliction of duty and deviation from work ethics, it also kicks off a fresh debate over the working conditions of delivery boys in general and what would have forced the delivery man to eat customer’s food.
Delivery boys and the work
Thanks to the surge in e-commerce and food delivery startups, now more and more people are getting employment as delivery men. As per a BBC report, Food delivery app Zomato employees about 1,50,000 delivery people and Swiggy employees 1,00,000 people across the country. With at least sixty to eighty lakh Indians joining the workforce every year, while job growth not keeping up, people are forced to settle for menial jobs.
In July this year, Livemint reported that the salaries of delivery boys working with food delivery apps have been boasted to about Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000, which is subject to the number of deliveries they make and distance they cover. Several employers levy a certain target, meaning, the delivery people are required to make a certain number of deliveries, as they are paid per delivery which is often too high to earn a really high compensation. One delivery person told BBC, “Earlier we used to get 60 rupees [85 cents] per delivery. Then from 60, it became 40. Still, I continued because I had to educate my children. Now the company is planning to make it 30 rupees per delivery. But I have expenses – petrol is expensive, I have children as well. Tell me what should I do?”
Companies also make attractive offers of delivering items in a certain time period. While it seems attractive from a consumers’ perspective, it may be noted that in this bargain, more often than not it is the delivery person who is penalised in case of delay. In September, a social media user described his experience where his vehicle nearly collided with a pizza delivery boy’s bike who was rushing. When the user confronted the boy, he pleaded him to go as he had a delivery to make in time. That boy was ready to put his life at risk just to deliver his employer’s promise.
It is very appealing that now, a person while sitting at the house can order the whole month’s grocery with just a click. It is the delivery boy who gets our products to our doorstep. It means that he would have to probably climb high rise buildings with heavy bags on their shoulders. One of the former delivery boys, while speaking to InUth said that he had to leave the job because of the medical problems he got by lifting such heavy bags. He also says that to date, his back hurts because of the heavy bags he had to carry back then. Another delivery boy says that the customers too show little or no empathy, they want their products to be delivered to their doorstep.
The way ahead
Definitely, with the rise in startups that deliver products at customer’s house, employment in this tough time is being generated. But the other side of it cannot be neglected i.e., the working conditions of those employed. Time and again there have been demands for streamlining and ensuring that those employed in unorganised sectors or as contractual workers are not devoid of their rights. Proper salary, clear employment terms, fixed working hours and medical benefits are some of them. The recent incident focusses on just one single person working as a delivery person but the debate should focus on improving the overall condition of people employed in these startups who often join the job because they are not able to get employment anywhere else.