With lockdown 2.0 happening across the region, we’re going to need an honest, efficient, reasonably priced way to get our food delivered to us. With recent developments, it seems like we’re going to have to add “non-problematic” to the list.
Foodpanda, which began its food-delivery services in Southeast Asia before expanding to Europe, has rode into a fair bit of trouble in the Philippines, as well as in Thailand and Myanmar. This isn’t even counting the unfavorable headlines individual Foodpanda workers made in Hong Kong and Singapore over the past few months.
In the Philippines, the company made headlines when news came out that riders in Davao had been summarily slapped with 10-year suspensions after management had gotten wind of a no-show protest planned to be held over three days, on July 14, 15, and 16. In an interview with CNN Philippines, Edmund Carillo, president and co-founder of the Davao United Delivery Riders Association Inc., said that the protest—meant to raise awareness of the low wages and unclear remuneration system from Foodpanda—hadn’t even been finalized when Foodpanda suspended the first 30 accounts.
A photo of the suspension notice—apparently sent to affected riders via the app—made the rounds on Twitter, alerting customers far and wide of the unfortunate labor dispute in Davao. After these first suspensions, another 70 riders received the notice.
Local newspaper Sunstar Davao reported that Foodpanda riders had gone ahead with a demonstration on July 15, wearing signs airing their grievances against the company.
Despite the backlash that the company faced, however, Foodpanda stood by its actions. On Monday, Foodpanda released a press statement confirming that they had indeed “made the difficult decision to offboard a small number of riders who have violated their agreement with foodpanda by calling for disruptions that may affect the wider ecosystem (other riders, vendors and customers).”
And in case there was any more doubt, Foodpanda makes it abundantly clear that they did it all for you, the customer. “To ensure that the platform remains reliable for all our users, we sometimes have to take difficult actions to mitigate operational interruptions.”
And because Foodpanda apparently didn’t think it was in enough trouble yet, it was revealed what the “screening process” to rehire some of the offboarded riders actually was: a self-proclaimed Whistleblower Program that basically asked protesting riders to name others in exchange for their job back.
(Believe it or not, the Google Docs form for Foodpanda’s Whisteblower program is still up online because obviously they’re not doing anything wrong guys.)
Though Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III claims the dispute has been resolved, Inquirer reporter Roy Canivel—who has been following the issue—says this is not true, and that there is a dialogue between the protesters, DOLE, and Foodpanda on July 26.
Foodpanda riders in Manila had previously staged a protest in front of the DOLE building protesting low wages in November 2020.
Foodpanda isn’t having such a great time in other countries, either. In Bangkok, #BanFoodpanda trended on Thai Twitter on Sunday, July 18, after the company responded to an allegation that one of their riders who had joined an anti-government protest was seen burning a royal portrait. Foodpanda quickly replied by saying they would review situation and immediately fire the rider for violating their policies “against violence and terrorism.”
Unlike their Philippine counterparts, however, Foodpanda Thailand walked their words back on Monday, July 19, with an apology. “[W]e are still trying to find out the identity of the rider. … [F]oodpanda assures freedom of speech and expression is not terrorism and the rider will not be dismissed due to this incident.”
That’s far from the end of it, however, though the trouble elsewhere come from a whole host of different reasons, not all of them the company’s doing. Here’s a list of other Foodpanda stories that Coconuts has run over the past few months—
This article, Foodpanda is in trouble both here and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.