Talabat UAE says riders in Dubai refused to work amid calls for higher pay

Riders say they cannot afford petrol and living costs after recent price rises

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Talabat UAE said that operations were disrupted on Monday night as riders refused to make food deliveries amid calls for higher wages.

The operator said riders, who are employed by third-party agencies, had announced they intended to refuse to work.

It said action was originally planned in advance for Tuesday and that it was liaising with the authorities to find a solution. An unspecified number of riders appeared to have brought that forward to Monday.

We understand economic realities are changing constantly and we will always continue to listen to what riders have to say
Tabalat UAE statement

Images on social media appeared to show at least dozens of riders and their bikes parked outside Talabat kitchens. The company said it was doing what it could to fulfil customer orders.

Monday night's action, which would be against the law if classed as striking or industrial action by the authorities, follows a similar situation last week with global delivery company Deliveroo, which reversed plans to cut the fee it pays for each food drop-off by nearly 15 per cent.

"Talabat is committed to ensure that riders can continue to rely on our platform in order to provide for their families, having decent stable gross monthly earnings of around Dh3,500 on average," Talabat UAE told The National.

Its statement claimed that organisers had encouraged riders to sign on for shifts remotely, then to “stay in your room” at their accommodation.

Talabat said it uses about 20,000 riders nationwide. It was unclear how many were involved in the action, but it appeared to be far fewer.

Riders said they were paid about Dh7.50 to deliver each order, and that rising petrol prices was a factor in dwindling earnings.

That is lower than the Dh10.25 an order that Deliveroo pays, which it had planned to cut to Dh8.75.

On social media, riders said they needed at least Dh10 an order to get by.

Talabat claimed compact operating areas allow riders to maximise their earnings by cutting out long journeys and waiting times.

"Until last week, rider pay satisfaction was well above 70 per cent and we haven't updated our payment model recently," the company said.

"We understand economic and political realities are changing constantly and we will always continue to listen to what riders have to say."

Talabat is the Middle East delivery unit of German multinational Delivery Hero and has operations across the Middle East.

In March, Talabat struck a surprise deal with football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to become its brand ambassador.

The Manchester United player and Portugal national team captain was pictured wearing a Talabat sweatshirt. How much Ronaldo was paid for the deal not was revealed.

Separately, Deliveroo UAE last week said it was investigating claims that third party agencies had made riders pay for their own visas, which is against federal law.

Some riders said medical insurance, which is mandatory in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but not in the Northern Emirates, was not provided by some rider agencies.

Updated: May 10, 2022, 9:02 AM