Currently we are in a labor struggle with the delivery service Flink. One of our members recently received a termination without notice, against which we have now filed a lawsuit before the labor court. The dismissal was unlawful, no reasons were given. We are demanding all pay slips that were never handed over to the colleague, as well as the settlement of outstanding vacation entitlements and any outstanding wage payments, and a proper employer’s reference. We are only suing for one case here, but we also want to support all drivers to defend themselves in all ways against the lousy working conditions at Flink.
The company, which was only founded in 2020, is currently the largest third-party delivery service in Europe. The principle: bicycle couriers deliver everyday items directly to consumers – according to the advertising, within 10 minutes. “Like shopping, only easier”. Also in Dresden there have been 4 branches or warehouses of Flink so far, called “Hubs”. We keep hearing about massive violations of workers’ rights. For some, the whole thing reminds them of a similar company, “Gorillas”, which made the headlines because of wildcat strikes of riders due to untenable working conditions.
Our member started working at Flink in June 2021 as a student employee. Right from the start, there were irregularities in the wage payments; often, they were not paid in full and had to be demanded. Despite repeated requests to his superiors, the colleague was not given access to his pay slips, which made it even more difficult to check the wage payments. In 2021, the colleague was not granted any vacation; part of it was not granted until spring 2022. There were also repeated problems with the digital working time recording services, sometimes they were simply unavailable, sometimes blocked, so that the colleague could not view his assigned shifts and thus defacto had no access to his workplace. When asked, the supervisors responded slowly and often only in phrases. “I will take care of it!” and then silence. Whoever was the supervisor changed often and was not transparent. In September, our member was injured in an accident at work and was summarily dismissed. As a result, we filed a dismissal protection suit against Flink at the Dresden labor court. The hearing will take place in November, we will inform you when we have the exact date.
Dresden Flink riders organized with us have to deal with so many grievances that they neither fit into one court case nor into a concise text: The safety at work is insufficient (e.g. in extreme weather). The weight of backpacks that are too heavy is not checked by default. Availabilities are often not considered when assigning shifts. The break room is a storage room with unsanitary furnishings. Terminations in the past sometimes took place completely informally and without notice. As is often the case in the gig economy, the operational risk is outsourced to the employees: If there are not enough orders, you have fewer hours and less money. Contractually agreed hourly figures are not adhered to, so that wage theft takes place here on a huge scale.
Overall, Flink takes advantage of the racism in our society: the company employs many migrants and exploits their dependencies and specific vulnerabilities. Often they do not know German labor law, language barriers play a role. Emails are sent in English, but laws that have to be posted are only available in German. It seems that Flink always tries to get away with it by being brazen or illegal. Unfortunately, this often works, because many are afraid to say anything. Not only financially, it’s a matter of existence: they don’t want to/can’t endanger their employment and their residence status, which is often attached to it. Also for the sake of his colleagues, our member decided to go to court.
The working conditions of the riders at Flink are an example of precarious work in the brave new digital world of startups. Unfortunately, this court case is not about big improvements for all workers, it is “only” about compliance with existing labor standards: bosses can’t just do what they want. Working hours have to be paid, we are also entitled to vacation as working students and in mini-jobs, clear criteria have to be met for termination without notice, and so on. The legal way is a strategy to demand the meager rights that the workers’ movements have fought for in history. We won’t let them take that away from us. But it is much more important that we organize ourselves, in our workplaces, as well as across workplaces and industries. That we take away the fear of saying no by supporting each other. Because together we can inform ourselves about our rights, demand them every day, and support each other in financial and personal crises. So we no longer have to put up with everything from the boss or the clerk at jobcenter. Because we are not content with individual court cases, but practice a solidary, self-determinated world in which there is no place for exploitation and domination.
We are looking forward to your interest and your solidarity in the conciliation hearing at the labor court in Dresden – stay tuned for the date.
The delivery start-ups have made their calculation without the riders, who are getting better and better networked and organized, also in unions. We are anything but at the mercy of these conditions, we are not “ausgeliefert”. ¹
P.s.: If you still order something from Flink, then think about talking to the riders about their working conditions and about the fact that they don’t have to be alone when they fight back.
¹ in german language “ausgeliefert” has a double meaning. A commodity can be ausgeliefert (delivered), or a person can be ausgeliefert (helpless,subjected, at the mercy of sb./sth.)
Read also: Working at Flink delivery service: Riders’ Experiences
oder in deutscher Übersetzung: Arbeiten beim Lieferdienst Flink: Fahrer*innen berichten