Over 150 Foodpanda co-workers have petitioned management of the delivery app to apologise after an online video emerged of a manager appearing to attack a delivery worker over an order-splitting dispute.

At the company’s Tsim Sha Tsui headquarters on Friday, they demanded the firm reveal details of the incident, fire the staffer in question, and make practical reforms to the platform’s order distribution system.

Foodpanda petition
FoodPanda couriers petition for reforms on order distribution system. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Siu Tong, who delivers for FoodPanda in North Point and Quarry Bay, told reporters that – currently – extra couriers are deployed if a thermal bag cannot contain a single order, or when there were more than two bags.

Au Gaa-wing, a member of the Riders’ Rights Concern Group and a FoodPanda delivery worker, told the press that the weight and types of goods, as well as the delivery method are not taken into consideration. Au said couriers want to have a say when the company decides on the order splitting criteria: “We hope to negotiate with the company because I feel – in fact – that couriers should play a part in the formation of the rules.”

She added that over 1,500 delivery workers held an online group discussion on Wednesday about reforming the rules, as – too often – a single courier’s load exceeded official limits.

Foodpanda petition
Siu Tong, a FoodPanda courier, demonstrated to reporters that the goods one has to carry often exceeds the bag’s capacity. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Au said they went to the Sham Shui Po Pandamart branch at the heart of the dispute earlier in the week and measured the weight of goods some couriers had to carry. Pandamart is the firm’s grocery delivery platform.

They found out that each worker was delivering two to three bags and each weighed 4.18 kilograms on average – the heaviest being 7.39 kilograms.

Another delivery worker who attended the press briefing, Ms. Ding, said she has heard that other workers had suffered from arm injuries because of the heavy loads: “We are food couriers, not cargo delivery staff,” Ding said.

Physical altercation

Footage posted to a public Facebook group last Friday showed a young man being held face-down on a pavement by the back of his neck. A FoodPanda courier told HK01 that he was being restrained by the Pandamart manager.

Staff said the company’s delivery department had given approval for the courier to split the order with other workers, but Pandamart staff refused his request.

Au told reporters on Thursday that the two had reached an agreement at a police station afterwards. However, she said the concerned courier still wanted the company to deal with the issue, and he had signed the petition too.

Workers said in the petition letter that they were “furious” about the incident, which had revealed “long-held problems” at the company.

Foodpanda petition
Au Gaa-wing (right), a member of the Riders’ Rights Concern Group and a FoodPanda courier. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

They urged the company to clearly define the power of contracted Pandamart staff to prevent the abuse of power by individual employees.

Pandamart pledge

Au said that Foodpanda sent a written statement to the fleet on Thursday agreeing that Pandamart staff “will not interfere in any decision taken taken by the Rider Service team.”

In the letter, the company said their operations director had hosted “a genuine and constructive conversation” between the two parties involved in the video.

Foodpanda petition
FoodPanda senior staffers received the petition from couriers on Friday. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

It also said it had made “internal adjustments” to avoid future misunderstandings and said that “all courier requests should only be done through the Rider Service Team.”

The workers nonetheless demanded a meeting with company representatives on Friday. In response, FoodPanda senior employee Yvette Yeung from the public relation team and Matheus of the operation department said that they will review the demands set out by couriers and publish feedback on their Telegram channel “if necessary” within a week.

The company told HKFP on Friday that it “will continue to listen to the opinions of all our stakeholders, and work hard to ensure a smooth delivery experience.”

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.