Efood, Greece’s largest food delivery service, sent out a text message to 115 of their employees urging them to become freelancers, possibly accepting no benefits and less stable employment, or lose their jobs.
For ten years, Efood has been the dominant food delivery service in Greece. The app services thousands of restaurants across the country, allowing them to use their own delivery drivers, or those employed by Efood.
Late on Thursday, Efood drivers, which the company claimed had lower ratings, received a message stating that, in the hopes of “increasing the productivity of the fleet” of drivers, and in the company’s “broader strategy,” Efood would only renew the workers’ contracts if they accepted a freelance position with the company.
If workers refuse the freelance position, “there is no possibility of renewing their existing contract,” the company’s text read.
Contracts for delivery workers are set to expire at the end of this month, and it is unclear whether they will be renewed for many drivers.
“Cancel Efood” trending on Twitter as workers pushed toward freelance positions
Many social media users and union leaders in Greece said that they considered the message a form of “blackmail,” shocked that the company would treat its workers this way after delivery drivers faced difficult conditions during the pandemic, when food orders increased exponentially.
Worker’s rights advocates in Greece argued that the freelance model, which is prevalent in the US, allows companies to employ workers with little security and without offering them benefits like insurance and social security.
Users called on their followers and friends to delete the Efood application from their phones and leave bad reviews for the service. The hashtag #cancel_efood is the top trending topic in Greece on Twitter on Friday.
— Nik 😌 (@niks_karma) September 17, 2021
Union: Greek delivery giant “blackmailing” employees
The Hotel, Tourism, and Catering Union slammed Efood’s message to its drivers, calling it “blackmail.”
“The message that many delivery workers received from the company, that their contracts would not be renewed…is a tool with only its benefit as a purpose, so it can be free of workers and insurance rights of deliverymen.”
The union released in a statement saying that Efood is “blackmailing its employees with low ratings with the dilemma — unemployed, or a coworker. In this case, ‘coworker’ means using the government’s new labor law for freelancers, which means a six-month contact that frees the company from offering insurance and Christmas and Easter bonuses,” according to the Union,.
It then urged Efood employees to organize and speak out against the company.
The labor law was passed in mid-June under great controversy and in the wake of major protests organized by labor unions.
Unions say that the new law will bring longer hours and weakened workers’ rights. The most disputed part of the bill allows employees to work up to 10 hours on one day and less time on another day of the same week. Unions fear that will enable employers to force workers to accept longer hours.
Text “does not express philosophy and culture of company,” says Efood
In a statement, Efood stated that the message was an “erroneous communication,” and assuring that the company was not out to take advantage of its workers, stating:
“Efood’s stance of safeguarding the rights of delivery workers is non negotiable. We condemn yesterday’s erroneous communication, as it does not express the philosophy and culture of the company.”
A total of 3,700 people, of which 3,000 work in delivery, are employed by Efood in Greece.
In response to the boom in business due in large part to the pandemic, Efood is looking to expand, hoping to create 7,500 additional positions at the company by 2022.
— Ζαγκάκης Δημήτρης (@zagkakis) September 17, 2021