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Should People Boycott Foodpanda? This Think Tank Says Yes

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ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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If it were up to a public policy think tank, consumers ought to boycott popular food delivery app Foodpanda for its alleged mistreatment of its delivery riders. 

“Tech delivery platforms should not treat their riders with indignity and contempt,” Infrawatch Philippines convenor Terry Ridon said.

Foodpanda was in the news recently for suspending about 100 of its riders for as long as 10 years for protesting against its labor policies in Davao.

“As a platform business, foodpanda’s success is dependent on its users: food vendors, riders and customers,” Ridon said. “We are encouraging its users to migrate to other platforms that can provide better beneficial relationships, most particularly to its riders, whose daily subsistence incomes are dependent on every transaction,” he said. 

Ridon also questioned the company’s business model, which regards riders as independent contractors and not as regular employees. Similar tech platforms like Grab also employ a similar approach and treats its riders as partners who are micro-entrepreneurs. Foodpanda earns by tacking on a certain percentage to food order prices, while riders collect payment for their delivery orders. 

Foodpanda’s decision to suspend its riders only proves both sides’ employer-employee relationship, he added. 

“If the riders were truly independent contractors, why can they not opt out of providing service to food delivery apps?” Ridon asked. “Why should they then be suspended from providing services due to activities unrelated to their service agreement?”

Infrawatch Philippines describes itself as “a public policy think-tank focusing on major public infrastructure and development projects in the Philippines.”

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Investors should also stop investing in Foodpanda, Ridon added, at least until the company complies with reasonable labor standards in dealing with its riders.

“Foodpanda should be warned that it has not yet captured market leadership in the Philippines, and critical towards this is continuing investment funding for rapid growth,” he said. “Whether through another investment round or an initial public offering, new investors should be given notice that the company currently treats its riders with indignity. Unless resolved, they deserve no single amount of new funding.”

The Department of Labor and Employment is working on guidelines to define the relationship between the tech platforms and delivery riders after issues concerning Foodpanda’s alleged mistreatment of its riders were first raised last year. DOLE said it is looking at hiring mechanisms, payout processes, control in the working condition, and the power to end the employment of riders, among other factors.

The Philippines is not the only country in the region where Foodpanda is currently having labor issues. In Thailand, the delivery giant faced backlash after it issued a statement against one of its riders who participated in the pro-democracy movement. 

"We will expedite the strict implementation of the rules of the company by dismissing the driver from his service immediately," the company said on Twitter. "Please note that Foodpanda has a policy against all forms of violence and terrorism. We are willing to fully assist the authorities in prosecuting criminals." 

The response from consumers was swift, with #BanFoodpanda trending on Twitter soon after the statement’s release.

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