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Government threatens to fine food deliveries after deliverers' death

2019/10/14 15:22:54

Taipei, Oct. 14 (CNA) Labor affairs authorities threatened Monday to fine food delivery platforms that are allegedly dodging their responsibility toward their food deliverers after two delivery men were killed in two separate car accidents in the past week.

The deliverers were not insured by their companies, as they are deemed to be contractors rather than employees.

Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) told reporters that some of the food delivery platforms currently operating in Taiwan claim that their deliverers are independent contractors rather than employees, meaning they don't have to cover their labor insurance.

But whether a food deliverer is the employee of a delivery platform company or not is defined by the labor authorities, not the companies themselves, she noted.

Hsu said that her ministry will soon begin inspections of these platform operators and clarify whether their delivery personnel are employers or contractors.

Even if the ministry ultimately agrees that the delivery personnel are working under contract only, the ministry will still demand that the platforms insure their deliverers or face fines.

Hsu made the comments when asked about the government's response after two delivery men were killed in two car accidents on Thursday and Sunday in Taoyuan and Taipei, respectively.

On Oct. 10, a 29-year-old Foodpanda delivery man surnamed Ma (馬) was killed when his scooter collided with a truck driven by a 25-year-old man surnamed Tseng (曾) at 11 p.m. in Taoyuan, police said.

Three days later, a 20-year-old deliverer of Uber Eats surnamed Huang (黃) was killed after his scooter was rammed by a car in Taipei's Shilin District at around 6 p.m.

Commenting on the deaths during a legislative session, Hsu said that among the seven food delivery platforms currently operating in the local market, three of them -- Foodpanda, UberEATS and Lalamove -- claim that they do not have employment relations with their deliverers, who work for them as "independent contractors."

The remaining four, meanwhile, see their deliverers as employees and are therefore covered by labor insurance, according to Hsu.

According to labor ministry statistics, 80,000 deliverers are working in the seven companies.

Currently, no food deliverer unions have been formed, Hsu said, adding that her ministry is talking to the deliverers and will help them to form a union.

The ministry will also talk with the Financial Supervisory Commission later this week to discuss possible new forms of insurance that can be offered to food deliverers.

Meanwhile, commenting on the same issue, Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said at a separate legislative session that on Oct. 2, his ministry made public "delivery guidelines for the food delivery industry" that stipulates that the relative platforms need to make sure their deliverers are covered by insurance.

Even though these platforms registered in Taiwan as information services companies, they are in fact operating transportation services and have to follow regulations as stipulated in Taiwan's Highway Act and Regulations for Automobile Transportation Operators, said Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯), head of the Directorate General of Highways under the transportation ministry.

(By Wang Shu-fen, Kou Chien-shen, Liu Pei-cheng and Joseph Yeh)