Zomato workers deliver meals on bicycles in extreme heat not out of climate consciousness, but because they can’t afford a motorcycle. And surprisingly the food delivery platform doesn’t provide vehicles.
Zomato delivery executive
Obendra Yadav, 19, a Zomato delivery executive often gets exhausted riding his bicycle delivering food for App users in Ghaziabad’s summer heat. There are also days when he falls asleep without eating anything for dinner. His tired legs give in and the heat kills his wish to eat.
Yadav, who happens to be a student, uses his brother’s second-hand bicycle for delivery. He cannot afford any of these meals with his low income of Rs 20 per delivery. He cannot refuse an order and if he fails to deliver it, he is penalized. The penalty can be more than what he makes on a busy day, he says.
Yadav’s working conditions are harsh but Zomato gets to greenwash its image by hard selling the bicycles.
On this year’s World Environment Day, Zomato proudly announced in its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report, on how the company is customizing its business strategy with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to totally contribute to society. One such sustainability initiative is “climate-conscious deliveries”.
In other words, the company promotes more cycle delivery executives to help fight environmental pollution. But is it helping the delivery agents? The answer is a big NO.
So-called climate-conscious deliveries
After this announcement, roughly 18 percent of deliveries on Zomato happened on bicycles. Well, it looks clear that the bicycle deliveries happen not because of delivery persons’ consciousness towards the environment, but because they cannot afford a motorcycle. Zomato does not provide vehicles to its delivery partners.
Shankar from Bhilwara, Rajasthan delivered food in the desert heat to clock a maximum number of deliveries as fast as possible. “I was the only bicycle rider in my area and I worked really hard to manage a spot in the diamond category,” says Shankar.
There are benefits if workers reach the top ‘diamond’ category in the Zomato app, which has four divisions — blue, bronze, silver, and diamond. To reach the diamond goal, Shankar rode his Atlas bike relentlessly, close to 100 kilometers every day. His stomach shrunk and his muscles stiffened. But Shankar needed the money.
An orphan, he had to take out a loan to even buy daily needs during the pandemic. The school where he taught didn’t pay for months.
Despite these flaws, delivery men like Yadav and Shankar do not leave these jobs. In fact, the number of people joining such jobs is increasing.
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