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Grab, Gojek, and Lalamove’s couriers in Indonesia seek better pay, hold series of strikes

Written by Ursula Florene Published on     3 mins read

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As companies reduce per kilometer payments and incentive schemes, couriers for large tech companies’ logistics services are refusing orders.

Indonesian courier-partners for Grab, Gojek, and Lalamove are again issuing demands for better remuneration and benefits as they go on strike. The current wave of organized action began in early June when Gojek’s GoKilat same-day delivery drivers refused orders in response to new compensation packages that would slash their income. Since then, gig-work couriers for Grab and Lalamove have committed to similar strikes.

Lalamove, Grab, and Gojek (via GoTo) are expected to go public in the United States this year. GoTo, which was formed after Gojek merged with Tokopedia, will also list in Jakarta.

Between June 23 and 25, members of the GrabExpress Sameday Drivers Association joined a no-work strike to express dissatisfaction with what they describe as “low tariffs” that constitute their paychecks. Digital flyers for the protest were circulated via Facebook groups for couriers starting Tuesday last week but did not attract the anticipated turnout. Less than 40% of same-day couriers in Jakarta joined the strike, according to a person familiar with the situation.

GrabExpress drivers said they met with representatives from Grab to discuss their demands on June 23, but the meeting did not lead to any immediate changes.

A Grab spokesperson told KrASIA that the company didn’t lower its per-km rates or other income scheme. “The strike initiators already met with Grab representatives on Wednesday, and we had resolved the misunderstanding during the meeting,” said the spokesperson. Contrary to the drivers’ statement, Grab claimed that the strike was cancelled after the meeting.

Aside from the matter of tariffs, the company said that drivers also complained about the dimensions of packages that are shipped through GrabExpress. There have been cases where couriers had to deliver large items such as refrigerators on motorbikes, which violated the rules of GrabExpress. However, couriers received warnings if they refused these orders.

“For cases like this, drivers can contact our help center so they can cancel the order without getting penalized,” said the spokesperson.

Indonesian couriers for Hong Kong-based logistics startup Lalamove released a statement on Sunday, June 27, seeking higher wages from their employer, a remedy for restrictive payment withdrawals, and a clarification on couriers’ employment status. A spokesperson for Lalamove Partners Gathering Forum, named Ade, told KrASIA that the company changed its rules on June 1 so that drivers can only withdraw their cash during office hours and that the system, at times, temporarily withholds outgoing transfers.

“For example, if we request to withdraw on Friday, the money will be transferred on Monday. However, we [couriers] are still working on Saturday and Sunday, as well as on national holidays, since the [Lalamove] app is still taking orders during holidays,” he told KrASIA.

Furthermore, Lalamove has gradually reduced its per-km commission since last year. When Lalamove first entered Indonesia, Ade said, the tariff was IDR 4,000 (USD 0.28) per km. That rate was cut in half in January 2021. “The company also takes 20% from the tariff, so now couriers only receive IDR 1,600 (USD 0.11) per km,” he added.

Lalamove couriers held an off-bid protest from June 11 to 13, although Ade could not say how many drivers took part. “It seems like the company doesn’t see us as ‘partners’ since they can unilaterally change rules and working systems,” he said.

Although the strikes have yet to move the needle in favor of the couriers, they see few other options besides holding more strikes. Gojek’s GoKilat drivers are planning another action tomorrow as multi-day strikes at the beginning of June did not lead to their desired outcome. “We are going to refuse orders on June 29 and 30. We have distributed flyers to inform customers and will hang banners in crowded places,” said Yulianto, a GoKilat driver representative.

Their demands remain the same: for Gojek to rescind its new incentive scheme or raise payments for every km traveled by drivers during deliveries. Under the new scheme, drivers’ bonuses are half what they used to be, while the per-km tariff remains the same.

Read this: From GoPay CEO to startup mentor and investor | Q&A with Aldi Haryopratomo

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This article has been updated to include a response from Grab.

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