Kuwait City: An online petition calling for motorcyle delivery men to have a daytime break during the summer season has gathered over 10,000 signatures. Although the petition was created three weeks ago, it has gathered over 9,000 signatures in the past 48 hours.
Many people have been using the hashtag, #StopworkingUnderTheSun, along with photos of delivery men on motorcycles, to shed light on the issue of working during the summer months,
The petition page states “day time delivery in Kuwait is inhumane and dangerous for workers. We demand the leading delivery companies of Kuwait to provide a safe working environment for all their employees.”
A set of recommendations have been suggested on the petition page to protect delivery drivers: order from the restaurants main website, order via pick up applications and preorder before 11:00am and after 5:00pm.
“The summer period is very hot and humid in Kuwait and it is dangerous for people to work under this heat. Last year, there were four motorcycle delivery men that died because of sun exposure,” Mishari Al Sanad, head of the workers’ committee at the Kuwaiti Society for Human Rights, told Gulf News.
Kuwaiti Society for Human Rights is a non-Governmental organization, working towards protecting human rights in Kuwait and the Arab Countries. The workers’ committee initiated an awareness campaign, six years ago, to monitor violations of employees working outdoors from 11am to 4pm, during the summer times, starting from June 1 to August 31. The timings and dates are as per the 2015 ministerial law 535, that prohibits employees from working under the sun during those times.
“As the workers’ committee we monitor all sorts of employment that is done under direct sun from construction work to restaurants that deliver via motorcycles,” Al Sanad pointed out.
The committee started the hashtag for people to post photos on social media of employees working outside during the prohibited period. In addition, they receive phone calls, photos and videos. Once they receive a complaint, they then dispatch a team to the location, gather all the information and then send the information to the Public Authority for Manpower. The Public Authority for Manpower then sends a team to the site and either gives out a warning or files a violation against the employer.
“Last year we had the largest number of complaints as the campaign gained momentum and many people stopped ordering from restaurants during the day because they knew that their food is going to be delivered by somebody driving a motorcycle,” Al Sanad explained.
Since June 1 of this year, they received a total of 289 complaints, visited 211 sites and filed 147 violations.
“This year unfortunately because of Corona engagement has gone down,” Al Sanad explained.
The petition was directed towards Talabat, Carriage and Deliveroo, the three largest food delivering companies in the country. Yet, food delivery is not limited to these companies, fast food restaurants and local restaurants also use motorcycles for deliveries.
“Most of these restaurants have both motorcycles and cars, but they prefer to use motorcycles because it is cheaper and faster,” Al Sanad said.
Al Sanad added, “but because of the economic impact of Corona most of the workers are willing to drive the motorcycle under the heat as they have gone months without being paid.”
Although most continue to use motorcycles, Al Sanad realized that last year after the media pressure many restaurants stopped using motorcycles and mainly depended on car deliveries.
Last summer, Deliveroo instated a campaign where they provided their drivers with cooling stations across the country. In addition, they gave out cold gloves and vests to their drivers to reduce the effect of the heat.
On July 9, Deliveroo said on their Instagram that they are still working towards finding ways to ensure their drivers safety during the summer time.
Effect of pandemic on food delivery services
The food delivery business has encountered various obstacles, ranging from shorter working hours to decrease in delivery employees, since the start of the pandemic.
Food deliveries were halted for three weeks, beginning on May 10, as the country imposed a nation wide lockdown. Once the full lockdown was lifted, a partial curfew was reinstated thus limiting the hours of movement, including food deliveries.
Back in May, the Kuwait Municipality canceled 1,923 food delivery permits for violating health requirements.
Food delivery companies
The food delivery business in Kuwait has been growing in the past few years.
In January, Carriage was acquired by Talabat, which is owned by Berlin-based company Delivery Hero. In addition, restaurant partners and drivers were transferred over to Talabat.
Carriage, a Kuwait based food delivery service, was acquired by Deliver Hero back in May 2017 for 30 million Kuwaiti Dinars ($100 million). Since the acquisition, the food delivery company has expanded into the Gulf, including Egypt.
The London based food delivery company, Deliveroo, expanded its operations in Kuwait back in February 2019.