If you’ve noticed any disruptions to Toters this week, it’s because the app’s delivery drivers are in the midst of an ongoing strike in demand of better pay and improved working conditions. As revealed by the Synaps Network, the management of Toters and its workers are currently locked in disagreement, with the strike potentially escalating.
Central to the delivery drivers’ demands is the issue of unadjusted pay rates. Toters drivers’ main source of income is from delivery fees included in most orders. These can range from 18,000 to 50,000 L.L. ($0.28-0.80 at the parallel market rate) based on distance, time, and other factors. Meanwhile they have to take on the cost of fuel, and any problems that arise with the order themselves.
Tips had been used to supplement the low pay and risky working conditions, however they have also been dwindling under the weight of inflation and the economic crisis. A driver told the Synaps Network that currently “a tip may be 15,000 lira [0.25$], and that’s if the customer is kind.”
One of the drivers’ main demands includes an increase to this minimum delivery charge, from 18,000 to 35,000 L.L. per order. A pittance compared to the profit margins built on the drivers’ labour. The workers also complain of dangerous working conditions, citing frequent muggings, stolen motorbikes, and police harassment, and demand increased protection and compensation to offset that.
With soaring prices, and no end to the crises in sight, it seems the conditions of Toters drivers, much like a significant portion of other workers in the Lebanese economy, are only going to deteriorate further.
Toters drivers’ labor and struggle has often been made invisible by the app and its management. Their position within the local gig economy
has been scrutinized as a neverending trap of precarity, barely allowing them to make enough money to get by. Some drivers have previously described their conditions to be “like slaves”
Additionally, workers at the forefront of this strike have also been reportedly fired and replaced for daring to speak up and demand better.
Coverage of the strikes has been relatively absent from local media outlets, which could lead to a repeated suppression of the workers’ demands, as has happened in previous strikes and protests. In this moment, where the labor and struggle of delivery drivers has been made visible, it is important to question some of the exploitative practices at the heart of our daily lives and support the drivers in their rightful demands.