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On the afternoon of November 3rd, the second – and for the time being, final – round of negotiations between FAU Berlin and the Foodora management ended without concrete results. The management had already postponed this appointment twice since September. In the meantime, Foodora has also introduced further changes that worsen the working conditions of drivers. When it became clear that – contrary to its commitment in August – the management hadn’t prepared any concrete offers to the drivers regarding their key demands, FAU Berlin had no option but to declare the negotiations a failure.
I find this behaviour completely unprofessional,” said Leonhard Herrmann, a driver at Foodora and member of the negotiating team on Friday. “If Foodora does not abide by any of our agreements, we must assume that they are not serious about the negotiations. While negotiations were ongoing, we held back with protests and union action against the company – now we no longer feel bound by this.” The negotiations were supposed to be about the drivers’ three core demands: that the company cover all the operating costs, especially the bike-repairs; a wage-increase of at least one Euro per hour; and improvements in the shift planning system. In addition to this, changes in the bonus system and the de-flexibilisation of the shift-swap system (introduced unilaterally by the company in September, causing great discontent among drivers) were to be discussed. The Foodora management did not demonstrate willingness to negotiate any of these topics.
In fact, the only demand the company responded to was the matter of the bike repair costs. From January 2018, Foodora announced, there will be “cooperation partnerships” with selected bike shops. Each driver will receive a monthly credit from these shops which expires at the end of each month. This credit amounts to less than 5ct/km. That is not only far less than the 35ct/km originally demanded, but also below the 10ct/km paid by competitor Deliveroo. Riders are particularly skeptical about the fact that the money will not be transferable from one month to another. Herrmann also noted: “All couriers know that we often only need a new hose or some chain oil for months on end – but then suddenly everything breaks down at once and it becomes really expensive. With the model Foodora wants to offer now, we will still have to pay the real repair costs out of our own pocket.”
FAU Berlin is now calling for a rally on the 10th of November. There, the drivers will protest against the continued deterioration of their working conditions and discuss the next steps of the campaign, which is again fully underway. In addition to concrete, effective improvements, many drivers are still calling for a collective agreement that regulates their working conditions permanently and reliably in the long-term. “Even though in its current form it is more of a PR-stunt than a real solution: the fact that Foodora is now introducing a compensation for bike-repair costs at all is clearly a success of our campaign,” says Clemens Melzer, a member of the negotiating team. “So we are going to continue with this campaign until Foodora agrees to engage in serious negotiations on an equal footing.”
Berlin, November 6th 2017