Ahram Online has attempted to obtain official figures from relevant ministries, the International Labor Organization and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), to determine the number of home delivery couriers operating in the country, but the authorities concerned did not have clear figures. in this regard.

However, a review of the databases of a number of home delivery apps suggests that home delivery couriers working in Egypt could exceed 500,000, or about a third of the country’s irregular workers.

Door-to-door delivery workers typically work 12-hour shifts without health insurance or pensions and cannot count on a steady income.

Many couriers work by registering on a database for various online home delivery platform applications without entering into a direct contractual relationship with the business owner.

These app couriers receive between 10 and 20 percent commission per order and rely heavily on tips, according to Sayed El-Aasmar and Mohamed El-Tayar, two couriers who spoke to Ahram Online.

They use their own motorcycles or means of transport for their delivery work, paying for gas and repairs.

Many are now trying to improve their wages and living conditions, and there are initiatives to organize them and bring them into the formal economy.

As part of its socio-economic development plan for the current fiscal year 2022/23, which started on July 1, the Egyptian House of Representatives has urged the relevant bodies to implement a number of procedures that would protect the rights of unorganized and informal workers.

The Chamber called for issuing a license to exercise the profession to these workers, including them under the social protection umbrella, facilitating their inclusion in the formal economy and providing them with training to develop their skills.

In a tough economy brought on by war in Ukraine, 12,000 couriers working for Talabat – an online food ordering company – went on a two-day strike in April to demand higher wages.

A number of recent initiatives by the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Egyptian Trade Union Federation aim to ensure representation of this category of workers, especially as the market for online shopping and e-commerce is expected to grow further.

According to Statista, Egypt is the second largest market for online shopping in Africa after South Africa.

Media reported after the Talabaat strike that the government was considering forming a union to represent door-to-door delivery workers to guarantee them the rights that other workers have.

Mirvat Sabreen, the assistant to the Minister of Social Solidarity, revealed to Ahram Online that the ministry received a proposal to cooperate with a number of online apps to promote the rights of couriers.

Sabreen also said the ministry was about to sign a number of cooperation protocols with these apps in this regard, without providing further details.

A source from the Ministry of Social Solidarity told Ahram Online that the ministry’s initiative is to put in place a framework governing home delivery services in Egypt, protecting workers’ rights and binding them to an accountability system.

“The ministry is working on an initiative that will be sponsored by a number of online shopping apps that operate in the local market,” the source said.

“This initiative includes the creation of an association which will be affiliated with the ministry and will represent door-to-door delivery workers, engaging them in the formal economy.”

The source added that the initiative also includes providing delivery workers with helmets and other protective equipment to protect them from traffic accidents.

“It also involves issuing accident insurance policies in conjunction with a life insurance company in Egypt. The initiative also involves working with leasing companies to enable couriers to purchase their needs in installments,” the source explained.

The initiative, which will be implemented in phases, also includes providing couriers with training and awareness sessions, according to the source.

The Mrsool Egypt delivery service, which has 140,000 couriers registered in its system, is one of the online platforms engaged in this initiative and supports all its components.

Mrsool Country Manager Karim Gamal told Ahram Online that the platform aims to increase the number of its couriers to 1 million over five years as the home delivery market in Egypt experiences significant growth.

“As an online platform that also focuses on home delivery app development, Mrsool is involved in the process as a focal point between couriers and app users. In recent times, these workers have called for social and insurance protection against the risks they incur on a daily basis. We support the creation of an entity to represent them, preserve their rights and govern their relationships with business owners and consumers,” said Gamal.

Mrsool provides technical support to couriers around the clock, provides premiums for peak and off-peak hours, and is currently working on new verticals to increase sales, so couriers can increase their monthly income, according to Gamal.

“We support the creation of an entity to represent couriers and provide them with medical and social insurance, especially since they are not employees with signed contracts. In addition, this entity will be an important reference for the companies themselves in matters of responsibility and can serve as a system for counting the number of workers, facilitating the process of dealing with their needs and facilitating the support of formal bodies,” said explained Gamal. .

Ahram Online also spoke with the President of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), Hassan Shehata, on the issue of establishing a union for this type of unorganized workers.

Shehata said that such a step would be complicated and that the ETUF is not the body concerned by such a measure.

“According to trade union law, home delivery workers can send the ETUF a request signed by at least 50 of them to set up an administrative committee which could evolve in the future into a union committee, then into a union representing them. . in their dealings with business owners and government agencies,” Shehata explained.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), through its office in Egypt, is also working on a comprehensive project to support non-unionized workers in Egypt, with a focus on the home delivery market.

Mahmoud Agmean, a lawyer before the Egyptian Court of Cassation and legal advisor to the ILO, told Ahram Online that this segment of workers has no organized legal structure within which to work.

“Companies use these couriers without a clear contractual relationship. This is a big gap that needs to be addressed, especially as the home delivery market is growing rapidly,” Agmean said.

Agmean explained that a similar crisis had previously faced workers seeking work abroad, as there was no legal framework governing the relationship between these workers and their potential employers. However, the country’s labor law has since been amended with an entire chapter regulating this process.

A legal framework, as well as the creation of a union for them, will guarantee the representation of door-to-door delivery workers in relations with business owners as well as with official bodies, he added.

The total number of unorganized workers in the country is between 1.5 million and 2 million, according to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Manpower and the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). ).

The only official figure available for organized labor is the total number of state employees, which are estimated at 6 million, according to CAPMAS.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, the informal economy accounts for 30% of the country’s GDP of EGP 9.2 trillion in the current financial year.

Also, the last economic census published by CAPMAS in 2021 puts at 2 million the number of companies in the informal sector, which employ millions of workers.

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