Comment: Profit over public safety

A food delivery service recently changed the compensation structure for its delivery staff. While the outcry has been about the riders’ earnings, the bigger issue should be about safety for the riders and other road users

When was the last time you were waiting at junction, and at least one motorbike and/or a car hasn’t shot through a red light? How often has the vehicle been from a delivery service?

A delivery service operator recently announced a new compensation structure for its riders. They would be paid for each hour they worked as well as each order they delivered. The food delivery operator’s performance-related compensation package promises up to RM15 per hour for their “best performing riders” and claims their delivery riders would ride home with more income, as though their decision is really a charitable one.

Excuse my skepticism but when has anyone reorganised their remuneration structure to pay more – unless there were even better returns for the paymaster? How do these service operators believe that profiting at the expense of the welfare of their “employees” and other road users is acceptable? Why not just call delivery service the “Red Light Beater of the Month Challenge” Trophy?

It’s too easy for these companies to wash their hands of the blood bath the compensation structure could be responsible for. Note that they don’t call their riders “employees” because legally, they’re not. The riders are technically “third-party contractors” which means they use their own bikes and they are responsible for their own insurance, maintenance and fuel. If there’s an accident, it’s not the delivery company’s responsibility. Meantime, other road users will be the losers because we know, the traffic police always find in favour of motorcyclists when accidents happen.

Legislation has to catch up with new ways that are emerging to make a living, the gig economy. The government has to close the loopholes these not-employers are exploiting: all the advantages of a workforce without the reciprocal obligations and duties. In this instance, that also includes the welfare of all road users.

There have been calls to boycott that food delivery service but not everyone has that option. So, fellow road-users, be extra vigilant, stay safe on the road and invest in a dashcam if you don’t already have one.