Bolt, the food delivery app which has taken the country by storm, is working on presenting a position paper to the government to introduce some much-needed regulation in the sector, the CEO of TXF Tech, the partners for Bolt in Malta, Cyprus and Tunisia, Sebastian Ripard told Lovin Malta.
In January, Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed issues surrounding work practices involving food couriers, particularly those adopted by recruitment agencies or fleet operators.
MaltaToday reported that concerns have been raised over agencies and operators that supply food couriers to leading food delivery platforms, like Wolt and Bolt. These agencies take a commission from what the couriers earn. In some cases that can be as high as 50%, with some couriers clocking up to 80 hours work a week.
Speaking on the latest Lovin Daily episode, Ripard did concede that there are certainly some regulatory issues that must be addressed since the country’s laws do not cater to the emerging app-based economy.
“There are many benefits and consequences to the industry – and we need to have a discussion with all the people involved to ensure everyone is being respected,” he said.
As Ripard explained, most of the workers within these agencies are third-country nationals who cannot enter Bolt’s far more profitable self-employed system because of their status.
Around 85% of Bolt’s fleet are self-employed individuals, who are mostly Maltese or from within the EU, who make a sizeable income from what is ultimately meant to be a part-time job and not a full-time income.
Unfortunately, as Ripard concedes, third-country nationals who work within external operators could still be exploited.
Bolt is currently drafting a charter for all of its operators to sign and adhere to – ensuring that its employees are getting their fair share and the adequate protection as afforded by law, including working hours.
However, Ripard insisted that there was little concern for the percentages operators are charging, with operators providing transport, petrol and other benefits that self-employed couriers do not.
“It’s like an employee at a shop taking all the profit off the items sold,” he said.
He did explain that the issues were ultimately created by barriers for third-country nationals to actually enter the self-employed structure.
Ripard was full of praise for the self-employed system – which he explained generates about €4.90 per delivery and 1.8 deliveries per hour for the average courier. An average courier could expect to earn around €1,500 per month.
He said that the system allows the kind of flexibility and freedom that most jobs do not.
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