The issue should be clarified before the end of 2023, the head of the Labor Relations Department told “K”
A requirement for the Ministry of Labor is also the treatment of the indicated work that exists in the profession of the distributor.
The next few months are decisive in relation to the creation of a working conditions framework for food distributors, according to the director of the labor relations department, Andis Apostolou. “K” contacted Mr. Apostolou in relation to the safety and remuneration issues of the distributors and on the occasion of their recent protest event. Issues that were raised in meetings held with the trade unions and the employer side (fleet management companies), in an attempt to find a specific working framework that satisfies both sides. “This is a rather difficult undertaking” pointed out Mr. Apostolou, since, as he explained, first of all, the sector has developed in recent years, so there is no previous experience of the employers in relation to staff organization and collective agreements. In addition, he said, the vast majority of workers are from third countries and they themselves have different experience with collective bargaining and this makes it even more difficult to define a framework of benefits that can be included in a contract.
< p>No security rules
The collective agreement is called upon to resolve issues beyond the determination of wages and hours. Above all, the most important issue is the means of transport used by the distributors – motorcycles and bicycles, and what is the employer's obligation in this regard. The issues of maintenance and control of the vehicles used, the provision of protective equipment and fuel costs are also important. So far, all of the above is in most cases the distributor's own responsibility. In addition, the quality of the vehicle and the spare parts chosen for its maintenance are not checked, with the SEK and PEO guilds emphasizing the safety issue – primarily of the driver – which is raised due to the absence of control.
In the discussion and the setting of the maximum number of trips per day as well as changes in relation to the delivery time of the product
The appropriate changes
Recommendations such as setting a maximum number of trips per day as well as maximizing the delivery time of the product or calculating external conditions that affect the delivery time, such as the traffic load on the roads, are expected to be put on the consultation table. Also expected to be discussed is the scenario of a pre-set minimum delivery driver salary, which is expected to reduce the number of trips per delivery driver and therefore reduce the time they spend behind the wheel, as well as allow food to be delivered in a reasonable time , and with more flexibility.
In particular, the ownership regime for the means of transport used in the distribution of products will be discussed. At the moment, each distributor uses his own vehicle – motorized or not – and is responsible and covers at his own expense the refueling as well as the cost of maintenance and suitability checks, without other safety and control barriers.
It is also expected to discuss the earnings depending on the category and degree of difficulty of each route. At the moment, routes in the midst of severe weather conditions (heavy rain or heat), are paid more than a normal route, which is partially correct. On the other hand, it increases the lure of working in difficult and often dangerous conditions for distributors, as pointed out by the unions. The point is to reduce the risk that the distributor takes in trying to secure more salary by taking on difficult routes that he tries to cover in the shortest possible time.
Continuous control< /p>
In addition to the effort for a collective agreement, there is an ongoing effort to record and control the terms of employment and employment conditions in the industry, whether it concerns the platforms themselves or concerns businesses or natural persons. The check is done every month both by the inspection service of the Ministry of Labor and by the Department of Labor Relations – on a monthly basis and details of people who employ are submitted to determine if they are registered in the social insurance system. In relation to undeclared work in this industry, he commented that there is definitely implied work – that is, the hours the worker is compensated for, not the actual hours. “So that's what we have to find and we're constantly asking employers for data, we're getting data from the platforms as well and we're coming up with real earnings.” He emphasized the need to increase control over the part of the indicated work and utilization of technology for more efficiency.
Collective agreement or impasse
Mr. Apostolou expressed the assessment that the next months will be decisive for the course of the consultations and whether a collective agreement can be reached or whether a deadlock should be declared in the discussion. Certainly, he said, the effort cannot continue until the end of 2023, but decisions will be made earlier. It is noted that the SEK guilds, PEO DEOK, the fleet management companies and one of the three digital product distribution platforms participate in the consultations.
Who is the employer?
Who is the employer of the food distributors after all? A question that arises every time the working status of distributors – and its gaps – comes to the fore. Mr. Apostolou was asked about this and stated that either they are employees with employers fleet management companies (these in turn cooperate with the platforms). A large number of distributors are self-employed. This system is in place in most EU countries, as he noted.