Gorillas Workers Collective
The Gorillas Workers Collective was established by a group of food delivery workers employed by Gorillas, an app-based grocery delivery start-up founded in 2020 in Berlin. The company operates in 21 German cities and has recently expanded to Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Issues raised by the collective:
- Insufficient provision of working clothes and equipment as workers must carry out deliveries under harsh weather conditions (heat as well as cold)
- High pressure to make a delivery within less than 10 minutes in all of Berlin, while the bikes are not equipped with any electrical support
- Low wages and tips are not paid on time
- High possibility to get injured (among others due to the requirement to carry the backpack with the Gorilla logo on the back despite its heavy load)
- Although backpacks are supposed to be weighed in order to make sure that they do not exceed the weight limit of 10kg, this is oftentimes not carried out
- Even though the workers obtain a contract instead of having a freelance status, this has not positively affected the working conditions for the above-mentioned reasons. Furthermore, all working contracts are limited to one year and oftentimes are not being extended. They also contain a 6 months-probation period, during which the contracts can still be terminated without reason. According to the collective this results in a constant stream of new workers.
The collective organised protests and strikes as of July 2021 after one worker’s contract was terminated without further notice. In response, the Workers Collective organized a strike and temporarily stopped the warehouses’ operations by blocking their doors.
On August 13, 2021, the Gorillas Workers Collective (in cooperation with FAU’s Lieferando operating group) organised a nation-wide protest demanding:
- Payment for all the equipment needed (bikes, locks, clothes, phones, power and data)
- Timely and regular payment of adequate wages (complaints relate to the fact that wages are generally low and differ among couriers: certain offers were only made to the first couriers joining the platform)
- Payment of pension insurance, health insurance, sick leave and holiday leave according to the law
- Data security
- Termination of probation periods, contract limitations, arbitrary terminations and repression against unionizing (“union busting”).
Furthermore, the collective contests the company’s practice of constantly firing workers after their one-year contracts end. This issue was taken to court in September 2021, with the collective accusing the company of “cold firing” employees. The practice of suddenly firing employees without any apparent reason not only has negative implications for the workers, who in many cases depend on employment for their residence permits, but also effectively complicates the collective’s efforts to mobilize and create a permanent body of workers’ representatives equipped with the necessary skills to defend the workers’ rights and inform new members. As of September 2021, no agreement with the management of the company has been reached.
- Awareness raising, campaigns, information provision, Negotiation of working conditions, Organising and representing workers
- Employee organisation, Worker
- On-location platform-determined routine work
- employment status, health and safety, income, work intensity, working time quality, work-life balance