“We are humans, not machines”: a workers’ association on Zomato’s 10-minute food delivery

The association said that while Zomato insures its customers, it must ensure that the issues and concerns of delivery people are addressed.

The Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers (IFAT) asked Zomato, which recently announced that it will roll out food delivery within 10 minutes to ensure delivery people are taken care of.

A statement by IFAT General Secretary Shaik Salauddin said companies such as Swiggy, Zomato, Blinkit and others are providing time-definite delivery. In this competition, Zomato is trying to be the fastest in delivering groceries and meals to acquire more customers, and the lives of delivery partners are at stake, he said. He added that while companies entice customers with the “instant delivery fantasy”, they wash their hands of concealing the problems.

“It is the incentive working conditions that these platforms actively shape that incentivize delivery people to pursue these incentive goals that motivate delivery people to resort to such acts,” he said.

After Zomato Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal announced that the company was going to introduce this, many wondered how food would be packaged properly so quickly and it would put drivers at risk. To this, the CEO said that they are not informed of the delay, whether for 10-minute or 30-minute delays, and are not incentivized or penalized for on-time or late deliveries.

“Zomato should understand the stress and pressure it is creating with these new services it is launching forgetting that workers are not machines. Many of their delivery people are working over ten hours and the platform is actively hiring such working practices by not setting any cap on the maximum hours a delivery person can log in. Extended long working hours on the road increase the risk of being accident-prone,” the statement read.

Salauddin said Zomato in many cases has been unable to address issues such as meal leaks due to faulty packaging and fast deliveries. “As a result, delivery partners/workers were repeatedly penalized. While planning to provide 10-minute deliveries to its customers, Zomato needs to address these worker issues and concerns,” he said.

He also urged Zomato to view delivery people as human beings and not data points, and said the company should understand the stress and pressure it creates with the new services it launches. “Many of their delivery people work over ten hours and the platform actively engages such work practices by not setting any caps on the maximum number of hours a delivery person can log in. Extended long hours on the road increase the risk of being accident-prone,” he said.

He said that while companies share information on the number of biryanis ordered per minute, they do not share data on accidents their delivery partners have encountered or how many people have lost their lives.

“Even though Zomato provides its customers with super-fast food delivery, it needs to ensure that the delivery people/partners who will be the ones actually providing this service, their issues and concerns are taken care of,” the statement said. While the 10-minute delivery service is based on a finishing station at a particular location, Salauddin said the company needs to provide delivery partners with access to restrooms, rest areas with parking for their vehicles, charging stations and Wi-Fi access at the aforementioned locations.

“Ensure the safety of its delivery workers/partners operating in the areas served by these “finishing stations” and keep its promise not to penalize the delivery worker/partner if the order is not delivered within 10 minutes. Zomato Instant must take into account the size/quantity of the order and must not offset the cost of spilled/leaked food on the delivery person/partner,” he added.

Andrew B. Reiter