A Department of Industrial and Employment Relations investigation in food couriers in Malta remains ongoing and the government remains reluctant to comment on the issue.
Minister Carmelo Abela refused to answer a series of parliamentary questions from MP Jason Azzopardi over the issue.
Yesterday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for digital labour platform workers to be given the same rights and access to social protection as other workers do.
While not exclusively limited to food courier services like Bolt and Wolt, issues in those industries have been under the microscope in Malta.
Working conditions at Bolt Food and other similar operators have been under the spotlight since the beginning of the year when it emerged that while EU nationals can be self-employed, hundreds of third-country nationals are employed by fleets that take half their income.
The companies supply them with a motorbike and a fuel allowance, which would cost the courier’s less than what they give the fleet if they rented the motorbikes themselves from a rental service.
To make matters worse, the couriers start their journey in considerable debt, paying up to €7,000 for the fleet agencies to get them a work permit in Malta.
After initial reports, Bolt had promised to address the issue, even pledging to force agencies to sign up to a charter guaranteeing workers’ protection, and they even said they would submit a white paper on the matter.
However, last month, Lovin Malta reported that Bolt Food was slashing the fees paid to couriers by reducing their peak-time bonuses by an average of more than 50%.
Meanwhile, MaltaToday reported the government held a meeting with food delivery app stakeholders at Castille last Thursday where they were told such changes were unacceptable.
Criticism about their practices is also haunting their operation abroad. Lovin Malta has reported how an Oxford Study had named Bolt as one of the worst employers in the gig economy.
The government has said discussions are underway to fix any loopholes. However, there has been little movement in this regard.
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