I met Ángel (not his real name) waiting in the dinner queue of Vecinas de Lavapies food bank last summer. It would cost him at least one hour’s work to feed himself, and another job to get the metro back to his sister’s house where he was staying.
A delivery rider in Madrid can earn as little as just €1.20 for every delivery they make (it was more pre-pandemic). If they’re lucky, they can make three deliveries an hour coming to €3.60: around half the national minimum wage which is €7.04 per hour. To earn Madrid’s monthly minimum (€1,108), a rider must work over 70 hours per week.
Not only can riders barely afford to live, they’re also risking their lives with every journey they make. Last week, a 48-year-old man wearing a Glovo backpack collided with a bin lorry and died. Last year, a similar incident in Barcelona led to demonstrations demanding regulations, contracts and fair pay.
Workers continued forced to work as false-self-employed meaning no workers’ rights: no job protection, equipment (bike, helmet, lights, GPS, safety gear), holiday pay, minimum wage, parental leave or sick leave. They’re also required to pay Social Security which costs around €300 per month, as well as file quarterly tax returns which cost around €200.
But the 48-year-old rider who died last week was believed to have been in an even more precarious position than this. It emerged that despite carrying a Glovo backpack at the time of his death, he was not registered as working with the company, which led to the suspicion that he was involved in another loophole: fake registration. This is where non-riders register themselves online and sell their accounts to riders unable to register themselves for either cost reasons or being undocumented migrants.
In the end, it transpired that the man who was killed had been registered with Deliveroo, but the investigation surrounding his life and death have brought to light another issue in the in the dark and unregulated world of the gig economy, and how much Spain’s forgotten frontline workers risk their lives to deliver a takeaway – rain and shine, lockdown and Filomena.
The @RidersXDerechos on IG (Riders for Rights) are a grassroots group of riders and ex-riders. They’ve created a platform to highlight inconsistencies in their employment rights, workplace incidences and successes in their ongoing fight. Their demand is simple: give us contracts!