Food delivery drivers in Dubai stop work over pay conditions

DUBAI – Food delivery workers in the United Arab Emirates demanding better pay refused to work on Monday (May 9), the second time this month delivery workers have walked off the job in the Gulf state where public protests, industrial action and trade unions are banned.

The strike disrupted services of Talabat, a subsidiary of Germany’s DeliveryHero, in Dubai, the country’s financial centre that is also a regional trade and tourism hub.

Delivery drivers in Dubai are low-paid workers and are typically employed via agencies, who many workers say charge them for their working permits, which is illegal in the UAE.

Videos shared on social media appeared to show delivery workers wearing Talabat’s predominantly orange uniforms in large groups in various parts of Dubai refusing to make deliveries.

Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.

A Talabat spokesperson said its delivery drivers, who are contracted via agencies, earned on average 3,500 dirhams (S$1,320) a month and that up until last week 70 per cent of its drivers had expressed satisfaction with the company’s pay structure.

There had been no recent changes to the pay model, the spokesperson said in a statement, and the company was committed to ensuring drivers can continue to provide for their families.

“We understand economic and political realities are changing constantly, and we will always continue to listen to what riders have to say,” the spokesperson said, without saying if the company was engaging with those who were refusing to work.

Authorities in the UAE, an autocracy whose rulers do not tolerate dissent, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Rival Deliveroo last week halted plans to cut earnings of drivers in Dubai by 15 per cent per delivery after workers went on strike in of pay and working conditions.

Human rights groups have criticised the UAE and other Gulf states for the treatment of low-paid migrant workers there where they account for a large part of the workforce.

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