Foreign food delivery drivers go on strike in Dubai

Strike action is rare in Dubai [File: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg]

In a rare incident of industrial action in the country, foreign food delivery employees in the United Arab Emirates staged a mass walkout, demanding better pay and working conditions.

The strike on Tuesday followed a similar action earlier this month, in which foreign workers forced another employer to delay plans to reduce pay.

In the most recent incident, drivers for Talabat, the Middle East division of the German company Delivery Hero, refused to make deliveries in Dubai, the country's financial and regional tourism hub, on Monday evening.

The success of a strike by Deliveroo delivery workers earlier this month inspired a group of Talabat drivers to seek a better deal early Tuesday morning outside a restaurant in Dubai.

This walkout, which severely delayed Deliveroo's operations on 1 May, resulted in the British food delivery firm abandoning plans to reduce pay.

The oil-rich Gulf nation prohibits independent labor unions, public demonstrations, and industrial action.

Demand for wage increases

The Talabat drivers want a $0.54 raise in payments to $2.59 per order to offset the more than 30 percent increase in UAE gasoline prices.

"If Deliveroo offers this price, why aren't we getting it?" asked a Pakistani Talabat driver, asking for anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company and authorities.

Deliveroo drivers in Dubai earn approximately $2.79 for every delivery.

A representative for Talabat stated that its delivery drivers earned an average of 3,500 dirhams each month ($953). The number of hours worked for this was not mentioned.

A spokeswoman stated that there had been no recent changes to pay rates and that 70% of drivers were satisfied with Talabat's compensation structure until last week.

After paying for gasoline, Talabat drivers reported earning 2,500 dirhams ($680) per month by working 12 to 14 hours, seven days per week.

The drivers cautioned that the strike might continue until the corporation agreed to the salary raise, but several feared running afoul of the law if the protest lasted too long.

At the time of publication, UAE officials had not made any public statements regarding the issue.

Many delivery drivers in the UAE, including those employed by Talabat, claim to be used by agencies who illegally charge them for work permits and other costs.

Publish : 2022-05-10 14:15:00

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