Delivery drivers for the Greek app Efood staged a large protest in the center of Athens on Wednesday afternoon in the wake of massive backlash the company faced over worker’s rights.
Hundreds of drivers for the Greek food delivery giant Efood protested on their motorbikes, after the firm sent messages to 115 of its drivers threatening not to renew their contracts unless they joined the company as freelancers, potentially accepting no benefits and less stable employment, or lose their jobs.
— Flabouro MK (@flabouro) September 22, 2021
The Efood drivers began their protest at the Pedion Tou Areos Park in central Athens, and demonstrated through the city until they reached Efood headquarters in Neo Iraklio, a northeastern suburb of the Greek capital.
Employees demonstrated against the company’s actions in other cities across Greece as well, including Thessaloniki, Larissa, and Volos.
Workers pushed to accept freelance status protest Efood
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.
Last week, Efood drivers — which the company claimed had lower ratings than others — 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 refused the freelance position, “there is no possibility of renewing their existing contract,” the company’s text read.
Τεραστια η συμμετοχή στην πορεία .
— Panikos (@Pa__Nikos) September 22, 2021
The message provoked shocked reactions on social media, with users going so far as to delete the Efood app from their phones and leave poor ratings for the service online.
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.
Efood’s rise as first online food delivery service in Greece
Much like its current decline, Efood’s ascendance to the top of food delivery in Greece was rapid.
Formed back in 2012 as the first online food delivery distributor in the country, Efood’s growth had been meteoric. It took only three years for its creators, the Kyrkinis brothers, to sell it to German mogul Delivery Hero for 22 million Euros — while retaining their position as CEOs.
From 2012 to 2015, Efood delivery managed to successfully overcome the effects of the financial crisis (when Greek businesses started dropping like flies) and create an unparalleled brand name, soon selling it to the German company. In the past two years alone, on account of the lockdowns due to the pandemic, its profits stood at 64.488 million Euros – over 21 million more than in 2019.
Efood’s income from commissions alone rose by 13,400,000 euros to 46,143,000 euros in 2021.
Text “does not express philosophy and culture of company,” says Efood
In a statement released late last week, Efood stated that the message was an “erroneous communication,” and assuring that the company was not out to take advantage of its workers.
It said “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 whom 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.