THE NATIONAL Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) has affirmed a ruling that recognized seven riders of online delivery service provider foodpanda Philippines as regular employees, according to a group of delivery riders based in Davao City.
The labor arbiter had ruled in favor of the delivery riders saying they had an employer-employee relationship.
The workers’ group, Davao United Delivery Riders Association, Inc. (DUDRAI), said they are expecting foodpanda to bring the case all the way to the Supreme Court and are prepared for the legal battle.
“In the still raging war against COVID-19, we take judicial notice of the fact that food delivery riders have repeatedly been alluded to as frontliners and heroes for enabling us to abide by physical distancing and other health protocols, while, at the same time, bolstering the economy,” the NLRC said in its Dec. 7 decision, based on a statement released on Wednesday by the group.
The NLRC said the riders were illegally dismissed since foodpanda suspended them for 10 years, which is considered constructive dismissal.
Constructive dismissal is when an employee is compelled by an employer to resign due to a specific incident.
The riders were suspended and denied access to foodpanda’s rider application in 2021 after they demanded for transparency about their pay.
A labor arbiter, in a decision released in July last year, ruled in favor of the riders and ordered foodpanda to pay them about P2.2 million in compensation plus lawyers’ fees.
Edmund D. Carillo, president of DUDRAI, said the latest NLRC decision was a victory for delivery riders nationwide.
“We are determined to see this through to the end, as we know that FoodPanda will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said.
“Apart from the money claims, this is a victory so that companies like FoodPanda will recognize the rights and benefits that should be given to delivery riders,” he added in Visayan.
Foodpanda has yet to issue a statement on the NLRC decision. In 2021, the company explained that it made the difficult decision to offboard a small number of riders who have violated their agreement with foodpanda by calling for disruptions that may affect the wider ecosystem that includes other riders, vendors, and customers. — John Victor D. Ordoñez