Sea Group’s e-commerce platform Shopee is facing allegations of underpaying its Indonesian couriers, as some drivers claim that their pay per delivered package was reduced.
The information was first shared on Twitter, showing a chat between a Shopee Express courier and a customer, who asked why his package had not been shipped yet. The courier explained that they were on strike as their pay for each package was cut from IDR 2,000 (USD 0.14) to IDR 1,500 (USD 0.10).
Indonesian netizens were infuriated, and the tweet went viral. The hashtag #ShopeeTindasKurir (Shopee oppresses its couriers in Indonesia) became a trending topic on Sunday. Other users began to share their own conversations with Shopee couriers, with most of them lamenting their low remuneration.
— jangan cepu (@lalaaphonee) April 11, 2021
Arif Novianto, a researcher at Gadjah Mada University, told KrASIA that the strike was “coordinated” by the courier association in Bandung. “I received the information from a member and one former Shopee Express worker there,” he said.
When asked about the situation, the Shopee Express driver declined to speak, fearing for his job and personal safety. Several couriers chose to resign as they deemed the new reduction as inhumane, said Novianto.
A Shopee Express hub worker and courier in Jakarta confirmed the pay reduction to KrASIA. In the span of one year, the fee per package has been reduced four times, the latest on April 5, he said. Last year, the pay was still IDR 5,000 (USD 0.34) per package.
“I don’t remember exactly when the first reduction was, but according to other friends, it started during the fasting month [in late May],” the Shopee Express worker said, adding that the reduction varied according to the area of operation. Each reduction was conveyed through verbal briefings from a manager, without any written notice in the form of an official letter or e-mail.
The employee further said that Shopee Express doesn’t pay basic monthly salaries to its drivers, but there is an IDR 115,000 (USD 7.90) bonus if they deliver at least 40 packages in a single workday. For every delivery beyond that, the company pays an additional USD 0.10 per package. KrASIA estimates that the couriers receive IDR 2.3 million (USD 158) per month if they meet the daily minimum of 40 packages—which is far less than Jakarta’s minimum wage of USD 304.72.
Most drivers find it hard to reach their quota as recipients are not always at home. Furthermore, there is no compensation for fuel or parking fees.
Shopee Express riders in Bandung have since ceased their strike and started to negotiate with the company, but have so far not found a solution, said Novianto.
Speaking to local media outlet Kumparan on Sunday, executive director Handika Jahja denied the allegation, saying that Shopee has a fair incentive scheme in accordance with the market and regulations in Indonesia. In an official statement that was later distributed, Jahja said that some consumers may have experienced delays during the 4.4 Mega Shopping Day campaign, which was a result of high demand during this period. “The incentive program we offer is highly competitive within the logistics services industry,” he said. “For example, our current average incentive rate in the Jabodetabek area (Jakarta metropolitan area) is IDR 2,213 (USD 0.15) per package based on 80 packages per day, compared to a range of IDR 1,700 to IDR 2,000 among other logistics services providers.”
(The final paragraph has been updated with the company statement.)