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Bangkok food delivery riders demand legal protections

Greeley Pulitzer

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Bangkok food delivery riders demand legal protections | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kapook
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If you’ve got a smartphone, a motorbike and a bit of cash, you can get work straightaway in Bangkok… but it comes at a cost. Though the income is potentially high, online food delivery drivers face heavy workloads, long hours, customer complaints and high levels of risk.

GrabFood riders held a protest in Bangkok last week, saying that they get too small a cut from the company. Some claimed to be paid as little as 30 baht per delivery.

Even if some services pay more, the protesters say their take-home pay ultimately isn’t much, as they must spend their own money on food and drinks as they wait, often for hours, for an order to come through, and companies don’t cover insurance or vehicle maintenance.

The key players in the sector at the moment are Line, GrabTaxi, Foodpanda and Gojek. All of these companies make a profit by paying a fee to drivers, who serve as a missing link between customers who can’t (or won’t) leave their homes and local restaurants and food stalls.

Riders and customers are matched with smartphone applications with which consumers can place orders at their chosen eateries. The apps notify customers when a rider agrees to collect the food for delivery to their address. Customers can use the apps to track the progress of their orders.

But while the apps are convenient for customers, the convenience comes at a cost for riders, who often have to deal with “unkind” conditions.

One rider who asked not to be named said delivery service providers apply a points-based appraisal system which gives extra points to drivers who promptly accept and deliver orders. These points supposedly reflect a driver’s performance. Customers are sometimes charged a delivery fee, which differs from one app to another, or pay higher prices compared to walk-in customers.

The rider said his take-home pay depends on what kind of orders he gets. Some days, he waits hours for a single order at a busy restaurant.

“I could have delivered two or three orders from other restaurants in that time.”

Problems usually begin during “peak hours,” the lunch rush 10am to 2pm on weekdays, when delivery apps are flooded with orders from office workers. And a rider who declines orders can be barred from logging onto the app.

“Because of the demerit system, no one would dare to reject an order even if it’s inconvenient. It’s extremely exhausting, but sometimes we don’t have a choice.”

The rider says he’s 16-18 hours a day since New Year’s Day, bringing home an average of 16,000 baht a week, but while his previous job didn’t pay as well, at least he could spend the weekend with his children.

Customer dissatisfaction can also hit riders’ wallets. If a customer feels they’ve waited too long or simply changes their mind, they can easily cancel their order on the app.

“In these cases, we sometimes have to pick up the tabs ourselves. Riders have to pay for the food orders with their own money and have it ‘reimbursed’ by the customers.” Another rider agreed and added another common complaint:

“We often get scolded by angry customers.”

Female riders face added risks. One complained on Facebook, saying she rode 17 kilometres to deliver an order at 1am, only to have the delivery address changed to a location that required her to go even further, down a deserted, dusty road. When she arrived, no customer came out to receive the order.

“Aye” became a food delivery rider because of the potential for high pay it promised. At first, he earned 100 baht per delivery, but nowadays days he gets about 40 baht for deliveries within a 5 kilometre radius, or about 1,200 baht a day – just enough to support his wife and seven year old daughter. He says there are about 100,000 people working as food delivery riders in Bangkok.

“Anyone with a smartphone, a motorcycle and a bit of cash can get work straight away. But the companies don’t cover vehicle maintenance, and they don’t provide insurance in case of accidents.”

Aye called on the government to require companies to provide some benefits for riders, including insurance coverage at the very least.

One law researcher at Chiang Mai University says companies behind food delivery apps control a huge amount of data about consumer behaviour, which can be sold to business analysts.

“Riders play a crucial part in collecting this data and they deserve to receive a share of the income from any sale of the information.”

Yet while riders’ work exposes them to constant danger from road accidents they aren’t eligible for compensation from the companies or the state because they are not technically company employees.

Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn, a researcher with the Just Economy and Labour Institute, agreed.

“These food delivery workers have no negotiating power at all when it comes to labour rights.”

App-based food delivery services operated by so-called platform economy companies have fast gained popularity over the past two years. The industry’s value is expected grow to between 33 and 35 billion baht this year, and to continue at around 10% per year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Bangkok cops bust online gun dealers

Greeley Pulitzer

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Bangkok cops bust online gun dealers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Police pose with seven firearms, 221 rounds of ammunition and 38 gun parts confiscated in raids this week - Chiang Rai Times

The chief of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau told a media briefing yesterday that officers have arrested six men and two women for selling firearms on Thai social media. They seized seven guns, ammunition and gun components. Police initially arrested Pairoh Chanchom for selling firearms without a licence. A subsequent, lengthy investigation led to raids on several premises and the arrest of seven accomplices.

Also arrested were 34 year old Thaweephan Jit-aree; 28 year old Saksid Kerdmanee; Suriyan Yodsaen, aged 38; 24 year old Kamphon Wongsriphuek; 28 year old Raen Senaphan, and two women; Intheera Thananwarawong, age 43 and 57 year old Uraiwan Krodsui. Officers seized seven firearms, 221 rounds of ammunition and also 38 gun parts. The suspects are charged with colluding in the illegal possession and sale of firearms and ammunition.

Police Major General Samran Nuanma, chief of Patrol and Special Operations Division 191, urges the public to call the 191 hotline if they have any information about unlawful activities on social media.

According to Gunpolicy.org of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, Thailand has about 10 million privately owned firearms or one for about every seven citizens. Of those, they estimate about 4 million are illegal.

“I can’t say whether Thailand has a gun problem, but it certainly has a gun culture,” says Michael Picard, GunPolicy.org’s research director.

“Guns are idolized as symbols of power and privilege, as they are expensive and not easy to legally obtain.”

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Politics

PM “concerned” about campus rallies

Greeley Pulitzer

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PM “concerned” about campus rallies | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Student demonstrators in Bangkok - AFP

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed “concern” over growing support for student rallies at universities and now high schools, throughout Bangkok and elsewhere, to protest the recent dissolution of the popular Future Forward party, and the possibility of confrontation and unrest.

The proliferation of political rallies and demonstrations comes in the aftermath of the Future Forward party’s dissolution by the Constitutional Court, starting at universities and now spreading to some Bangkok high schools. It led to the PM telling reporters today that he “understands the good intent of the students,” but that he is “concerned that they might be misled by one-sided information and might be used as a tool as part of political agenda.”

Prayut pleaded with protesting students to keep an open mind to information from the government as well, saying that he didn’t want a repeat of the “coloured political divide and eventual political unrest,” an apparent reference to the violent, sometimes fatal street protests between rival “red-shirt” and “yellow-shirt” factions; violence which shook the years 2008-2010.

He said, perhaps ominously, that core leaders of several rival political groups, whatever their political colours, are now serving prison time or facing trial. The PM said that he holds no grudge against protesting students, but warned that the “instigators” of student protests might face legal action.

This morning, a police team was dispatched to Triam Udomsueksa (University Preparatory) school beside Chulalongkorn University, where about 100 students held a flash mob to protest military dictatorship. Similar events were reported at Satri Wittaya, Suan Kularb and Bodindecha schools.

Triam Udomsueksa school director Sophon Kamol sent a letter to the district educational office explaining that the school had nothing to do with the mob, and did not support the event. He explained that about 4,000 students in Mathayom 4, 5 and 6 were gathered at the school for their traditional union and they had nothing to do with any flash mob.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thai Life

Legendary Thai singer Suthep Wongkamhaeng has died

Greeley Pulitzer

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Legendary Thai singer Suthep Wongkamhaeng has died | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Beloved “Look Krung” singer Suthep Wongkamhaeng died today at his Bangkok home, aged 86 - The Nation

A Thai icon is dead. Legendary “luk krung” singer Suthep Wongkamhaeng died today at his Bangkok residence, aged 86. A team of police and a doctor from Chulalongkorn Hospital were dispatched to Suthep’s house to examine the body and attempt to determine the cause of the death.

Luk krung (Thai: ลูกกรุง, literally “child of the city”), also called phleng luk krung (เพลงลูกกรุง), is a genre of Thai popular music. It’s a more polished, urban style compared to its folk music counterpart, luk thung. Luk krung songs commonly feature themes about the feelings of society, people in the Thai capital and occurrences of the day.

A beloved national treaure, Suthep was adored by the older generation for his soft, sweet easy-listening songs. Among his best loved songs are “Rak Khun Khao Laew” (I Have Already Loved You), “Look Kamphra” (Orphan), “Jai Pi” (My Heart), “Pid Tang Rak” (Wrong Way to Love), “Ter Yu Nai” (Where Are You?) and, “Botrian Korn Wiwa” (Lesson Before the Wedding) among others.

Suthep performed in several movies and sang the themes to many classic Thai films.

Legendary Thai singer Suthep Wongkamhaeng has died | News by The Thaiger

Suthep was admitted to Siriraj Hospital last year for treatment of a blood infection. He suffered from diabetes and other ailments associated with old age.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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