Economy

Rappi delivery workers in Colombia's Bogota strike over conditions

Rappitenderos protested against accounts being blocked, low-paying orders, and a points system which sets impossible targets for deliveries

Delivery workers for Rappi and other delivery apps protest as part of a strike to demand better wages and working conditions, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bogota, Colombia August 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Luisa Gonzalez
  • Tech unicorn Rappi counts on some 50,000 couriers, known as Rappitenderos, to deliver groceries and take-away meals, among other services, in the Andean country;
  • Many are Venezuelan migrants who have fled the social and economic crisis at home.

Close to 1,000 delivery workers for SoftBank-backed Colombian mobile application Rappi went on strike in the capital Bogota on Saturday to protest what they called unfair working conditions.

Tech unicorn Rappi counts on some 50,000 couriers, known as Rappitenderos, to deliver groceries and take-away meals, among other services, in the Andean country. Many are Venezuelan migrants who have fled the social and economic crisis at home.

Informal groups of workers called the strike to protest against Rappitenderos‘ accounts being blocked, low-paying orders, and a points system which sets impossible targets for deliveries, organizers said in interviews.

Delivery workers for Rappi and other delivery apps protest as part of a strike to demand better wages and working conditions, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bogota, Colombia. August 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Luisa Gonzalez

“Right now we are here for working rights,” said Andres Reyes, 28, who had joined Rappi to find work after the coronavirus outbreak.

READ ALSO: Rappi and Domicilios.com are the most used apps during quarantine in Colombia

“We feel we are treated badly,” said Jorge Yaar, 30, a Rappitendero for two years, adding that Rappi is taking advantage of them.

Amid a cacophony of horns, whistles and chants demanding “no more points,” Reyes said Rappitenderos want to end a points system which governs who, when and where people can work.

Protesters said they needed to earn hundreds of thousands of points from deliveries to be able to work in high-demand zones, though deliveries are worth just a few hundred points each.

Rappi said in a statement it would listen to Rappitenderos and highlighted its efforts to protect them during the pandemic.

READ ALSO: The app economy surged in Mexico and Brazil during the last few months

In fact, several similar protests, in other cities in Latin America, targeting other delivery apps, have already occurred in the past few months. In July, two major demonstrations took place in Brazil, for example, not only against Rappi, but iFood (the largest app of its kind in the country), Uber Eats, and others. The reasons? Almost always the same: better working conditions, guarantees and benefits.

In Colombia, measures introduced by the President Ivan Duque to control the outbreak, including an ongoing national lockdown, have battered the Latin America’s fourth-largest economy.

The quarantine began in late March and is set to last until the end of August. Most sectors have begun returning to work under new safety protocols.

Joblessness has soared during the pandemic. Colombia’s closely-watched urban jobless rate was 24.9% in June.