by Ateş Alpar – Adana
While many businesses slowed down after the coronavirus pandemic spread worldwide, courier jobs have accelerated. The workload of couriers has doubled or even tripled due to the increase in the number of people working from home and online shopping. Even in the time of lock-down, couriers work hard and have important problems and issues that need a solution. Many of those who work as couriers are also hit hard by the virus because of no health insurance, low-wages and long working hours.
Their biggest fears are having an accident or infected by the virus due to the high contact with other people.
In Turkey’s Adana Motorcycle Couriers Association Chairman Yalçın Parmak said that since March 2020 more than 160 couriers lost their life due to motorcycle accidents.
Human Rights Association Adana Branch President Lawyer İlhan Öngör gave the following statement about the situation of couriers for Medya News:
“During the pandemic process, we witness many violations of rights in places of work. Workers in Turkey who were already in the most severe and disadvantaged conditions are now also faced with even more severe human rights violations in the pandemic period.
Especially workers working as a couriers in 24/7 open restaurants are at a higher risk of getting very sick from this virus because they go to 30-40 places a day and are at risk of contamination in the workplaces. Most of them work for very low wages without any social security. On the one hand, they endure these difficulties in order to please the employer so as not to be unemployed and also, they have to please the people they deliver to. In the face of all these difficulties they experience, they do not receive a recompense for their labor, and in return they face the risk of overtime accidents and fear of being unemployed.
Evaluating the issue in terms of social rights, their vulnerability in a high risk job and not getting an appropriate wage, or any extra wages for their job, and also not having social security constitute a violation of social and cultural rights as a whole.” he said.
My main job was in the market. I quit because we could not sell our product in the market due to the pandemic. I work as a courier now, it has been six months since I started this job. It’s a very difficult job. We often work 12-14 hours a day, it takes total 20 hours including travelling home, taking a shower and having dinner. Well, our life is not a life. Lots of accidents happen, you can see, every day we lose a friend, a courier in an accident. We are poor, we have nobody, and we have no power behind us. I spend my time working and losing. The courier service is a very difficult job. Sometimes there is no morning or evening, you just work all the time. The money we receive is almost nothing, we can only pay for the breakfast shopping. The old motorcycle increased the risk of having an accident even more, we are speeding unavoidably to deliver the food to the customer before it gets cold, but I pay attention.
I both look after and run the workplace. Our work is very busy. Sometimes I deliver the food parcel when a request comes through. We do not take orders to places very far away, we take them from the local surroundings. I am Syrian, we fled from the war in Syria. While I was living in Syria, I was making and selling doner kebab, and as soon as I got here, I opened a doner shop. I hired a staff member to work with me and take the deliveries to the customer, but there were many accidents, I was afraid that something would happen to the young courier so I had to dismiss them. Now I look after the workplace and deliver the order to the customer myself. I deliver the food by motorcycle or bicycle, the roads are very crowded, sometimes I walk to avoid accidents.
I have been doing this job for 10 years, now I am having a hard time. Low wages and lack of health insurance make my life difficult. Delivering the water cooler bottle by a motorcycle is much more difficult for me. Every day, when I leave the house, I think I’ll be able to return home again without an accident. God saves all courierers, dozens of accidents happen almost every day. The motorcycle is difficult to drive, we are forced to be faster while delivering the order to the customer, but speed means death. Nobody thinks about us. Pandemic on the one hand, accidents and working conditions on the other, I don’t know how to survive. I take water to 40-50 houses every day, we are afraid of each other if one of us has the coronavirus. Well, we’re having more difficult times than ever before.
My job. I love my job. It has difficulties, of course, especially on rainy days, difficulties increase much more. We are now in the winter, I swear I’m freezing as we take packages in the evening hours. You are cold on the road, and if there is traffic, it is worse. Even if there is no traffic, nobody sees the motorcycle as a vehicle. If someone touches it with his car, while I was driving I will come off the motorcycle. It is happened before, while a friend was delivering a package, a person crushed him on the way, our friend could not do this job again. This job is difficult, brother. We courierers do not harm the environment, and people should respect us and respect our work.
Being a courtier is a very difficult, this year, a lot of couriers died in accidents. No matter how many services we provide, the number of couriers are never enough. After the second corona wave, workplaces, cafes, restaurants were closed, they only work online-orders with a courier now and nobody says how these people should work and under what conditions. We are working so hard that we cannot earn enough money. We work everywhere, but nobody says that these places, or houses we deliver the orders to are coronavirus positive or under treatment but nobody thinks about our condition. All of our friends work daily, if we do not go to work one day, we will be unemployed. But every day a lot of our friends are corona positive, they cannot work. There is no one to support us. Nobody helps anyone at this time. Accidents happen every day, our friends lose their lives daily. Our fears have doubled because of both the corona and the accidents. If I had some money, I would not do this job. The repair of the motorcycle and the raincoat I bought, the protective vest are all very expensive.
Things are going bad, we can deliver only 10-20 packages per day. Nobody can easily order food from outside anymore. Pandemic affected small tradesmen like us very badly. It was said that small tradesmen can get support for their business, but nobody informed us of this yet. I get very low wages and work without health insurance. Of course, I have difficulties while carrying a delivery, roads are very crowded during the day, cars are speeding, we have no choice but to drive slowly to avoid an accident, this is safer. But we hear that every day a courier dies. The traffic is bad, there is no control. I have a recommendation to all my friends, take care of themselves, and we must put our safety first.
I have a B + A2 motorcycle licence, I work part time. Believe me, it is very difficult to get work in this pandemic process. We come into contact with lots of people. I live with my mother, if my mother gets infected by coronavirus, I cannot forgive myself. I always wear a mask, sometimes I never take it off, even at home. This work has a lot of accidents and also has a high Covid-19 risk. Driving a motorcycle is difficult in the city, it is much more difficult to explain problems to people with masks. We see accidents in the news every day. I pay attention, I warn everybody to be careful. This job is no longer a permanent job. In the past, everyone warned about the traffic rules, now we are afraid of the speed of the cars. We are afraid that death can knock on our door at any moment.
I both work as a courier and I do the packaging for the workplace. When cafes and restaurants were closed, sales decreased. When sales decrease, the owner of the workplace has to dismiss workers. In order not to be dismissed, I do both packaging and work in the workplace. I’m also taking the orders by bike. I have a hard time not falling in the crowd and not dropping the food until I can deliver. Cars are moving fast without slowing down. I usually change my way to avoid crowds. Young people lose their lives to take a piece of bread from one place to another. It is very difficult to be a courier.