Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) is set to take action regarding the companies employing delivery app couriers, hundreds of whom have been protesting in Istanbul in recent days over working conditions and a low pay raise proposal amid record-high inflation.
The BTK is authorized to make regulations for the cargo and postal sector, thus will be responsible for making the necessary changes.
Accordingly, the "self-ownership" requirement, which is currently applied as 10%, will be increased in a short period of time to ensure the rapid transition from the "artisan-courier" model, which is the main source of the crisis, to the status of employee. With this move, delivery companies will have to grant employee status to more couriers rather than working with them as "self-employed" contracted workers.
Furthermore, the companies will be legally liable to the employee if they have an accident while on the job.
On Monday, couriers working for the online food and rapid delivery application Yemeksepeti resumed their walkout for the seventh day.
The strikes have been growing in a chain reaction since the end of January when workers at Chinese Alibaba-backed online shopping platform Trendyol managed to receive a nearly 40% salary raise.
Several couriers from rival firms, including Hepsiburada and the three largest cargo and courier companies, halted work to hit the roads with their motorcycles and called on locals to boycott these firms.
The problem arises from the artisan-courier model under the "gig economy" that has become widespread in Turkey in recent years. Today, many couriers, cargo and shipping companies give distribution and transportation jobs to individuals who open sole proprietorships instead of employing the employees themselves. A significant portion of their income depends on pay per delivery and tips, forcing couriers to work long hours.
Among other expenditures, the rise in fuel prices in Turkey particularly hit contracted couriers, or gig couriers, who are self-employed and are expected to cover all expenses by themselves, from their uniforms to social security premiums. In addition to registered gig couriers, which are believed to have reached 20,000 in Istanbul alone, there are also hundreds if not thousands of couriers in large cities who are of a migrant background, employed by smaller shops and restaurants accessible through online platforms, including Yemeksepeti.
The current system eliminates the liability of companies for contracted employees, and even if the courier has a work accident, they have no responsibility toward them.
Once the BTK accelerates the process to increase the 10% "self-ownership" requirement, that is, the condition of owning its own equipment and directly employing couriers, it will mean that the delivery companies will have to hire more couriers as staff.
The BTK will also hold meetings with other relevant ministries to ensure that these companies are legally responsible for the motorcycle couriers they employ.
Covering of the health costs of a courier by the company will also be ensured as a result of the changes and will be based on the particular work employees are engaged in.