About 200 trade unionists from the food and allied services sector massed on Monday morning outside a McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Brussels to protest against the use of the UberEATS online platform to deliver hamburgers. The protest was staged at the McDonald’s located at the Place de la Bourse [Stock Exchange Square]. The protesters, about 100 members each of the restaurant and food sections of the General Federation of Belgian Labour (FGTB-Horval) and the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC Food and Services), shared out tracts to passers-by.
“UberEATS is in a test phase at this restaurant,” said Alain Detemmerman, co-chair of FGTB-Horval. “The impact must not be underestimated because McDonald’s is one of the biggest companies in the world. When it chooses to use such a system, the others look on.”
The two federations denounced the precarious work conditions of UberEATS delivery staff. “Most of them are false independent contractors, with all the attendant risks, particularly where social security rights are concerned,” Detemmerman said. “Moreover, if a customer falls ill or dies after eating a hamburger, the company’s liability could be shifted over to these little deliverers, young people just 18 or 19 years old.”
FGTB Horval and CSC advocate using delivery persons employed by restaurants rather than using UberEATS or Deliveroo, another food delivery service. “Some of Deliveroo’s delivery staff have obtained work contracts, with working conditions that are not among the most correct, but at least they are recognized as employees, not as contractors,” said Detemmerman. “Once the working conditions are respected, there’s no more problem.”
The protest is part of a broad international movement of trade unions calling for a minimum wage of 15 dollars (12.7 euros) an hour, namely in fast-food joints.