In the Porte Saint-Denis district of Paris, home to the capital’s trendy restaurants, no one pays attention to them anymore, even if your bag is easily recognizable. Throughout the day, they squat at the self-service bike stations, staring at their phone screen. At their makeshift headquarters, they wait for the next notification that will probably bring them some money.
They are the couriers from Deliveroo, Glovo or even Uber Eats: delivery people under 30, mostly of African origin. Become a symbol in spite of itself, that of the uberization of the economy, in reference to the most famous of the platforms, Uber. On December 3, the labor court will resolve one more dispute between the Frichti company and the couriers requesting recognition of the existence of an employment contract. As cases of this type before the courts multiply, these platforms have become the symbol of a questioning of the French social model.
« I was a courier for four years at Uber Eats and Deliveroo, says Jérémy Wick, member of the CGT union of bicycle messengers in Gironde. At first my income was not so bad, we were even entitled to a bonus of 150 euros if we made deliveries in the afternoon. Two years ago, I could earn 2,500 gross euros a month. Then the bonuses were removed. My income has dropped to about 1,500 euros gross per month, which of course we have to remove the charges, the equipment … It is highly fluctuating, depending on the orders we manage to obtain. There is no stability. “
No boss, no paperwork, no commitment: work like a video game with the chance to earn a few pennies, in exchange for activities as diverse as handing out a hamburger on a bicycle after receiving an alert or relentlessly clicking on links or images from home, on behalf of of the websites. According to INSEE, around 200,000 freelancers used a digital platform or other intermediary to meet with their clients in 2017.
Between that year and 2019, the number of microentrepreneurs active on these platforms in the transport sector alone doubled, from 20,000 to 40,000, according to a relationship of the 2020 Senate Social Affairs Committee. A minority that is only “The visible part of the iceberg of the difficulties faced by self-entrepreneurs”, denounces François Hurel, president of the Union des autoemprendedores. While it can boast a huge customer base through the platform, the worker affiliated with it does not receive the minimum monthly pay or paid time off. Notifications mark your daily life: “The system asks you to leave your phone on permanently, for fear of missing a race”, regrets Brahim Ben Ali, secretary general of the VTC national intersindicale.
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