Delivery Drivers Launch Union in the Philippines

Delivery Drivers Launch Union in the Philippines

Solidarity Center
Solidarity Center
Delivery Drivers Launch Union in the Philippines


More than a hundred Grab food delivery riders launched the Iloilo Grab Riders Union (IGRU) in Iloilo City, Philippines, on November 24, then staged a unity ride around the city, located on Panay Island. Some 200 drivers joined in the ride, with more riders taking part from the streets, organizers said. The newly formed union’s demand is for just fares, paid sick leave and other social protections, and union recognition.

“The increasing price of gasoline and of commodities and the decrease in base fare delivery fees makes Grab riders work twice their normal hours to get the same wage they earned before the pandemic,” Archie, one of the Grab drivers who helped organize IGRU, said on the local radio show DZRH News. Archie is also a member of the Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party).

Photo Credit: Solidarity Center/Andreanna Garcia

Preceding the launch of IGRU, gig drivers from Grab and other platforms such as Food Panda and Maxim had begun to form unions across the Philippines. On August 15, some 300 delivery riders from General Santos City organized under the union, United Delivery Riders of the Philippines (RIDERS). RIDERS is composed of delivery riders from Food Panda, Maxim and Grab. Unity rides have also been conducted in the cities of General Santos and Cebu. Elsewhere in the country, local chapters of RIDERS also have begun to organize. 

Their aim is to formally establish the United Delivery Riders of the Philippines (RIDERS) as the national union for the riders. “During the pandemic, when Grab suspended the GrabCar service, Grab food delivery drivers became the lifeline of the company. Is it wrong to ask them to be fair?” asked John Jay, a multi-app driver and organizer from Metro Manila. He attended the IGRU launch to express support for his fellow Grab drivers.

In addition to the decrease in earnings, delivery drivers in the Philippines have little or no job security or basic benefits as they are part of the gig economy. Under Philippine labor laws, delivery riders are classified as “independent contractors,” which does not provide an employee-employer relationship. As gig economy workers, delivery riders are not entitled to social protections such as health insurance and income security, among other basic protections.

“Our interests will be protected only through the passing of laws,” said Mark, a driver and organizer from Pampanga. Like John Jay, he also traveled to Iloilo to share a message of solidarity for his fellow riders.

Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros proposed the Protektadong Online Workers, Entrepreneurs, Riders at Raketera (POWERR) Act, which would protect workers in the gig economy. A committee currently is working on the bill. 

The IGRU launch was supported by the Solidarity Center, the global union IUF, RIDERS, the Center of United and Progressive Workers (SENTRO), Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party) and the Brotherhood of Two Wheels (Kagulong). 

Iraqi Workers Hone Organizing Skills, Gain Rights on the Job

Iraqi Workers Hone Organizing Skills, Gain Rights on the Job

Iraq.Gulftainer election 2.11.14.scTransport workers at Gulftainer in the Iraqi port of Om Qasr port formed a union committee in November following a three-year organizing effort that involved raising awareness among workers about their rights on the job.

Recognizing they would be better able to negotiate for improved wages and working conditions if they were part of a union, some 119 workers have elected three members to a labor committee that will oversee union elections. The union would be an affiliate of the General Federation of Iraqi Trade Unions (GFITU).

The decision to hold elections signifies a key turning point for Iraqi unions, which generally have waited for management approval to form union committees but now recognize that the freedom to form unions is guaranteed by national and international law. Workers at Gulftainer talked with workers outside the workplace, and also reached out to night shift workers. They held an awareness workshop in Basra and an election preparatory meeting, where they discussed the mechanisms of implementing elections, and the participation of night shift workers in elections.

The newly-elected chairman of the union committee and two other workers at Gulftainer previously took part in a Solidarity Center workshop centered on developing organizing skills among worker representatives at companies funded by International Finance Corporation (IFC) loans.

The Solidarity Center is working with Iraqi trade unions to promote international labor standards at worksites, especially those where companies receive IFC loans, by using the performance standard of IFC institutions to protect worker rights. Iraq’s labor code, created under Saddam Hussein, contains significant gaps in areas of discrimination, forced labor and the right to collective bargaining.

Iraqi unions elsewhere are improving working conditions at IFC-funded workplaces, following Solidarity Center training programs, and are documenting violations and negotiating with management to improve working conditions.

For example, at Erbil Rotana Hotel and at Bazian and Tasluja cement factories in Sulimanyya, workers who took part in the trainings sharpened their organizing skills and went on to negotiate improved work contracts so that workers now receive overtime pay, in accordance with Iraqi labor

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