Delivery driver in India gets fired after eating the food he was meant to be delivering
A delivery driver out in India who was filmed eating his customer's food in a viral video has lost his job after the delivery company employing him caught wind of his behaviour, but the internet is split on whether or not the man deserved the punishment he got.
Out in Madurai in Southern India, a delivery man from the Indian food app Zomato was pictured wearing the company T-shirt while taking food out of the containers he was meant to be delivering, before resealing them and heading on his way. Zomato reacted swiftly to the viral incident.
"We have spoken to him at length and while we understand that this was a human error in judgement, we have taken him off our platform," explained Zomato in a statement. adding that the company took "food tampering very seriously".
"Last night, we came across a video of a delivery executive in a Zomato t-shirt, carrying a Zomato delivery bag, eating food out of boxed orders and replacing each one after resealing them, back into the delivery bag. The video suggests that he consumed some of the food meant for delivery to users, on his way to the drop points. We want our users, restaurant partners and all stakeholders to know that we take these kinds of reports extremely seriously."
But, as quick as the outrage proliferated, the tide quickly turned sympathetic as people started to understand the conditions that the unnamed driver - and others like him - are forced to work in.
Speaking to the BBC, anonymous delivery drivers told stories of how little money they earn for their hard work, exposing the darker side of the gig economy. In India, as many as eight million people join the workforce and with nowhere near enough jobs to accommodate all of these people, many people are forced to work in exploitative conditions just to make a living, even if they aren't making much.
"Earlier we used to get 60 rupees [85 cents] per delivery. Then from 60 it became 40. Still I continued because I had to educate my children. Now the company is planning to make it 30 rupees per delivery. But I have expenses - petrol is expensive, I have children as well. Tell me what should I do?"
Another delivery driver claimed to BBC: "I am the sole bread earner in my family. In case I have an accident, I don't have an insurance policy. The company doesn't give us insurance either. If there is a mishap then I will be in trouble. The company should think about that."
Zomato claims that there are around 100,000 active delivery partners at any given time, and in a statement, have stood by their employment practices, saying to the BBC that they don't impose unreasonable fines or subject their workers to unbearable conditions.
"All our delivery partners are independent contractors and choose to login (when and for as long as they want to) as per their own will for delivering food through our platform. They are free to go offline and come back online after any duration (be it an hour, day or week). Hence, all partners are advised to go offline when they want to take a break."
On the other side of the debate, another delivery driver (who is only known as Deepak) said to the BBC that while he'd seen the video, he had no sympathy for the fired individual. "Wrong is wrong," Deepak explained. "Where is the question of sympathy? He shouldn't have done this."
While there's plenty of outrage about this delivery driver's poor conduct, due to the incredibly competitive nature of India's workforce at the moment, there may be more to this story than meets the eye.