Cebu City

Grab delivery drivers protest pay cuts in Cebu City

John Sitchon
Grab delivery drivers protest pay cuts in Cebu City

UNITY RIDE. Grab riders hold a unity ride in Cebu City on November 10, 2022, to protest pay cuts. Photo by John Sitchon/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) Grab PH administrators say many protestors no longer delivery partners, vow that their riders 'will earn no less than the living wage'

CEBU, Philippines – Nearly 100 Grab delivery drivers held a “unity ride” along Fuente Osmeña Circle in Cebu City on Thursday, November 10, to protest reductions in delivery pay and incentives.

But a day after the protest, Grab PH administrators said a large bulk of the protestors were actually no longer delivery partners.

“Gusto namo ipadayag nga wala mi nalipay sa gibuhat sa Grab management sa among mga ka-Grab sa tibuok Cebu,” Jefren Abalo, organizer of the United Delivery Riders of the Philippines (RIDERS), told Rappler in an interview.

(We want it to be known that we are not happy with what the Grab management did to our fellow Grab drivers in the entirety of Cebu)

Abalo, a father of 5, relies on his Grab delivery income and is now worried he may be unable to provide for his children’s education because of the gradual decrease in pay from Grab.

Before the cuts, Abalo and other drivers said they earned around P1,500 to P2,000 per day. After the cuts and increasing operating costs like fuel and vehicle maintenance, they only earn less than P800 daily.

Abalo recalled that during the pandemic, many companies relied on their services to help assist frontliners and families who were isolated at home.

“We were hit during the pandemic but we’re proud to have served and support the economy during those times,” Abalo said in Cebuano.

On November 11, Grab PH clarified that Abalo last worked with the company in December 2021.

“We offered him a permanent role but he didn’t pursue that because of a certain permit required by the local government,” they said.

“Our team was able to engage a huge majority of our delivery partners in Cebu and they don’t express the same sentiments as the protesting group,” the administrators said.

“For Grab, each delivery partner will earn no less than the living wage and for them to earn much higher than their peers on other platforms—that is our commitment at Grab PH,” they added.

During a program held near the Robinsons Fuente in Cebu City, many of the Grab delivery drivers called out Grab PH for unfair labor practices and the absence of driver’s health insurance and a fair fare matrix.

Small pay and incentives

“We’re on the road 24/7, under the heat, during the rain and floods but fares are very small,” Grab driver Paul Añedes said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

The drivers also aired out their frustration over the significant changes in the “Gems” incentive system. Abalo said that the drivers relied on the incentives to make ends meet.

“If we earned enough gems from trips, we could exchange that for money. For example, 55 gems used to be worth P120,” Abalo said.

The drivers also alleged Grab’s lack of supervision by leaving drivers to process and pay for delivery permits that are required from them by the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (CITOM).

In a message from Grab PH sent to Rappler, the company said that they have been balancing the prices of fares due to the “tough economy”.

“We want to make sure that our partners still get to work and that we attract and support our consumers who have been tightening their belt because of the increasing prices of commodities,” they said.

The company also stated that the gems incentive system does not determine the earnings of the drivers and that they still provide health insurance through their Ka-Grab Rewards Plus program.

“We even waived our part of the commission for rides recently in Cebu. We’re not deducting anything from their earnings,” they added.

In response to the processing of permits, the company admitted that the drivers needed to process the permits on their own.

“However, we still provide assistance in the processing of their documents…we work with the relevant government agencies to fast track that process for them,” the company said.

Seeking remedies

On October 19, the top management of Grab PH in Central Visayas held an online consultation with the drivers on video conferencing platform Zoom to address the latter’s concerns.

The drivers stated that they were not given the chance to comment and that management simply told them that they would “study it further”.

A former Grab delivery driver, who wishes to be named “Dino” for safety reasons, claimed that he was banned from the app right after asking for a meeting with the riders and management on Saturday, November 5.

“The admin told me to leave my cellphone and record me during the meeting in the office but I did not agree to it,” Dino said in Cebuano.

Abalo claimed during his speech that there were other private meetings arranged with some of the drivers to prevent them from joining the unity ride.

Geoffrey Labudahon, the national coordinator of labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), told Rappler that the riders will be seeking a dialogue with the management of Grab PH, together with representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and city officials.

Grab mentioned in their statement that they would look into the aforementioned meetings and some reports of threats from fake accounts against top management. 

“In light of this, even during this whole protest, we never bordered our offices. Our doors are always open,” the company said. –Rappler.com

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