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22 Nov 2021

Candice Chau, Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong police warn striking Foodpanda workers to disperse or face possible force

[...] police warned a group of striking food delivery workers that they may use force to disperse their protest against wages cuts and other issues.

The workers for Foodpanda, an online food and grocery delivery app, gathered outside the company’s offices on Tuesday as they entered negotiations with management over their demands for better conditions.

Police raised a flag to warn FoodPanda strikers against participating in an unauthorised assembly, and that force may be used.

Long waiting times at restaurants, an inability to reject orders, cuts to delivery fees and inadequate insurance coverage are among their grievances. [...] KK, a representative of a group of workers [...], told HKFP on Monday it was not clear whether the delivery workers were considered to be self-employed or employees of Foodpanda. The representative said he had been told by some Foodpanda company staff that they were considered to be self-employed, but their contract terms did not seem to bear this out. [...] While Foodpanda provides insurance for delivery workers, the amount was insufficient, said KK [...] Those on strike also demanded a minimum order fee: HK$50 for motorbike riders, and HK$30 for cyclists and those who walk to deliver orders. [...] “There are fewer orders now because the pandemic situation has improved,” said KK. “Yet the company kept on hiring more drivers even with fewer orders.” [...]

The operations director said before the meeting that he was hoping for a “fruitful and productive discussion, and would like to “reassure everyone that we did not call the police.”

After the representatives entered the office building for the meeting, several police officers asked a dozen drivers to line up so their identity card numbers could be recorded. One police officer did not respond when a HKFP reporter asked if the force would take any follow-up action.