July 23, 2024

The management of Food Panda told the city council during its June 24 regular session that the company is looking into the concerns raised earlier by the riders.

Chelsea Hill, the company’s Corporate and Government Affairs Manager, said after reviewing the riders’ complaints, they plan to develop improved projects and programs to benefit the riders, whom they regard as their independent workers.

In May, a number of Food Panda riders in the city staged a temporary halt of delivery operations to demand fair pay, just benefits, and better working conditions from the management.

The riders’ strike drew the attention of the city council, which conducted a dialogue with them on May 27.

Representatives of the company failed to attend because the invitation had been sent to their previous address.

Food Panda riders, represented by John Jay Chan, Jose Conseho, and Leonard Payoyo, raised concerns on the company’s lack of a physical office and business permit in the city, making it difficult to address accidents or complaints promptly.

They also mentioned non-compliance with labor regulations, such as failing to provide personal protective equipment and fair contract terms, and the misclassification of riders as independent contractors to avoid providing benefits.

They criticized the content of the riders’ contracts, saying it lacks clarity on the fare matrix for calculating earnings, resulting in low and unjust compensation.

Contrary to the riders’ claims about the company’s lack of office and business permits to operate in the city, Hill said they have a business permit issued under the name Delivery Hero Dmart Philippines, which is the company’s official name, while Food Panda is just their brand name.

This was confirmed by Permits and Licensing Division head Allan Abayao in a recent SMS exchange.

Hill added they have an office at Pines View Hotel but it only handles warehouse operations for groceries.

She said the company understands the need for a designated person in the office whom riders can approach with issues or concerns and that they are willing to comply with any requirements or recommendations from the city government regarding the establishment of an office or designated person to address the riders’ concerns.

Currently, there is a service desk in place where riders raise their issues online by submitting tickets with their concerns.

The company responds to these concerns also through online channels.

Delivery Hero Logistics Operation Manager Ruben Mariano said creating another service desk is unnecessary as the current one caters to nationwide operations.

Aside from the online service desk where riders can lodge their concerns, Hill said they are also implementing the Panda Patrol project.

This project involves caravans that proactively reach out to riders, allowing them to raise their concerns directly during these events.

With regard to the employment relationship between the company and its riders, Hill said Food Panda classifies their riders as “independent contractors” or “freelancers” wherein they are allowed to work on multiple delivery platforms, not just Food Panda.

Hill refuted the riders’ claim about the company’s lack of insurance, affirming the company indeed provides insurance coverage for their riders, including coverage for death and accidents.

She added riders involved in accidents can file insurance claims through the coverage provided by the company.

With regard to the alleged low service fee the riders mentioned, Mariano said the company was testing a scheme where riders could see all active orders and choose which ones to serve.

Mariano also refuted the riders’ claim that they are penalized for refusing delivery orders.

The council committee on laws, human rights, and justice, chaired by Councilor Jose Molintas, is conducting an investigation into the matter and will provide recommendations once the investigation is complete.

In his oral motion during the recent session, Molintas requested that Food Panda provide a copy of their business permit. – Jordan G. Habbiling