Wolt denies claim that it offered a bike cargo full of soda instead of a wage rise when striking riders came to their office in Copenhagen
The Gig Economy Project, led by Ben Wray, was initiated by BRAVE NEW EUROPE enabling us to provide analysis, updates, ideas, and reports from all across Europe on the Gig Economy. If you have information or ideas to share, please contact Ben on GEP@Braveneweurope.com.
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A wildcat strike of Wolt couriers took place in Copenhagen and Aarhus on Wednesday [5 October] to demand a pay increase to cope with the cost of living crisis.
The Independent Wolt Couriers, a group of migrant riders in Denmark, organised the protest around the city before entering Wolt’s office in the Danish capital, and a rider told the Gig Economy Project that they were left furious after Wolt employees offered them a bike cargo full of soda instead of a wage rise, a claim that Wolt denies.
The riders proceeded to deliberately to take orders and cancel them in a disruptive action against the company, and in the video footage from the protest outside the Wolt office you can see a bike cargo with soda and hear workers shouting “no more soda”.
Mikkel Tofte, Communications Manager at Wolt Denmark, told the Gig Economy Project that “the cans of soda were offered like we offer any courier visiting our office a soft drink”, but this version of events was contested by Rasmus Emil Hjorth, a Danish courier in the Wolt Workers’ Group and 3F trade union, who participated in the strike and told GEP that the soda offer was “demeaning”.
“I said to the Wolt employee, “you are a Dane, would you like somebody to give you a soda instead of a wage increase, don’t you see how demeaning this is? You have never experienced this before’,” Hjorth said.
Ahead of the mobilisation, the Independent Wolt Couriers issued a statement with their demands, which were:
- An increase in the base fee from 35 Danish Krona (dkk) to 45 dkk;
- A restructuring of the bonus system or a complementary one to benefit full time workers and decentralise activity in the busy hours;
- Get rid of Wolt’s “straight line distance measure system” which does not pay for the real distance of delivering;
- Eradicate the most recent update of the algorithm which made picking up a second order on route to a customer’s house impossible.
Hjorth said that around 60-65 riders participated in the action, most of them full-time working 10-12 hours a day and operating in the main centre of the city, which he believes means the strike will have caused significant disruption for the company.
He added that Wolt’s management had previously told the couriers to wait until September before they can come up with a solution, but when September came there was nothing on offer. Hjorth said he believed this was “postponing tactics”, something the couriers did not respond positively too.
The Independent Couriers Collective issued a statement prior to the strike explaining the reason for their action: “Due to the current situation that we are experiencing in recent months in relation to the uncontrolled increase of the inflation, couriers are forced to demand that the company update our minimum fee per task, as it has lost value in the aforementioned context.
“So far this year, inflation has already reached almost 10% (values not seen since the 1980’s) and specialists estimate that it will continue to increase throughout 2022, so restaurants have been forced to increase their prices, in many labour sectors companies are making salary increases of 5% with the purpose of not losing the purchasing power of the workers and that they are affected as little as possible in this global context. Both clients and restaurants adapted their income to this inflationary situation.
“In the case of Wolt, by generating their income as a percentage of restaurant sales, the earnings of the company were directly updated when restaurants increased their prices. It is important to mention that Wolt increased the commission for some of them, from 25% to 30% of sales. Also Wolt added earlier this year a fee of 3 dkk (now 5 dkk) per delivery to be paid by the customer. On the contrary, couriers have obtained 35 dkk as a base for each task for almost two years, a value that today has remained very low and, as previously argued, due to the situation of public knowledge, it no longer has the purchasing power it had before.”
Tofte claimed that the “small” group of couriers numbered “approximately 20” and that while a “group of my colleagues went to meet them, greet them and invite them to have a dialogue” the couriers had “refused to talk to my colleagues”.
He added that while Wolt “will always engage in dialogue with courier partners” they “also have to listen to the consumer sentiment, and make sound judgements of what a customer wants to pay for deliveries”.
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