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Pangilinan: Delivery riders deserve access to PhilHealth, SSS

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Pangilinan: Delivery riders deserve access to PhilHealth, SSS
Police officers screen motorists and commuters passing the border of Bulacan and Caloocan in San Jose Del Monte on the first day of Implementation of a renewed lockdown or enhanced community quarantine on Monday, March 29, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Delivery riders should have access to work benefits like government health insurance and social security, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said, noting that riders face risks like other workers do.

Delivery riders are considered gig workers or independent contractors for app-based delivery services. Because of restrictions on movement brought by the pandemic, many have shifted to having food and other supplies delivered but riders have also complained of delayed salaries, unpaid incentives and benefits and the non-payment of accident insurance. 

"Our riders should have PhilHealth, SSS, Pag-IBIG...It's not a joke to be a (delivery) rider right now, with the tight health measures," Pangilinan said on Monday in a Facebook post.

"They interact with different people everyday for work despite the threat of contracting COVID-19," Pangilinan, who is running for vice president, said.

Last year, the state-run provident fund SSS said that riders working for door-to-door and food delivery platforms to consider signing up for the agency's insurance coverage, given risks in their jobs. 

The Department of Labor and Employment said in July 2021 that delivery riders can be classified as either employees or as independent conractors, depending on their contracts. 

"The contract or agreement shall stipulate the following provisions, including but not limited to the payment of fair and equitable compensation, which shall not be lower than the prevailing minimum wage rates and facilitation of registration and coverage under SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG," it also said in a statement.

It also said in a labor advisory that "any complaint or grievance of delivery riders or digital platform company shall be settled and resolved through conciliation, mediation, inspection, or arbitration, whichever is applicable, under existing rules and regulations."

SSS president and CEO Aurora Ignacio previously said that many delivery riders working for digital platforms in the Philippines are considered as "independent contractors or freelance workers." Contractual workers are excluded from receiving the benefits that regular employees are entitled to under labor laws. 

Separately, Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged the labor department to issue guidelines and labor standards that will protect the welfare of delivery riders, noting that many of them do not have access to health insurance and are exposed to the risk of accidents.

RELATED: DOLE urged to act on labor issues raised by food delivery riders

Riders must organize

In a January 2021 report on the Freeman, delivery riders in Cebu have started to organize themselves to better work for benefits for their sector. Of more than 60,000 delivery riders in the province, Partido Manggagawa-Cebu said it was aiming to get at least 1,000 members to form Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong - Cebu.

Associated Labor Unions spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said then that delivery riders have to organize themselves either as a union, association or cooperative.

"We are seeing a trend that riders will be subjected to abuse and vulnerable to abuse when it comes to working conditions," Tanjusay said.

Kapatiran sa Dalawang Gulong (Kagulong) has been an active advocate for riders' rights and, in 2021, called on DOLE to issue more binding guidelines to protect the welfare of delivery riders. The labor department said then that it can only issue a labor advisory since there is no law regulating delivery riders.

"The DOLE avers in the advisory that food delivery riders are protected by labor law and their contracts. On the contrary, the advisory affirms what presently exists – that the majority, if not almost all, food delivery riders are considered independent contractors and thus at the mercy of opaque app policies and algorithms," it said then.

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