Economic Woes

Precariousness: workers sacked amid pandemic become app delivery people

The new delivery workers face long shifts, harassment and traffic risks to guarantee income

Brasil de Fato | Pernambuco |
Pâmela Nascimento began working as an app delivery person at the outset of the pandemic. She claims that besides all of the other issues facing the sector, women face harassment while on the job - Pedro Caldas/Jornalistas Livres

One of the sectors with the most work available during the pandemic is app delivery, which due to social distancing, became an important bridge between businesses and their clients. In this manner, not only the number of delivery requests has increased, but also the number of delivery workers, many of whom were fired because of the unfolding social crisis.

Physical education and dance teacher Rodolpho Gazzaniga, began working as a delivery partner for Rappi (one of the many platforms operating in the country) at the start of the pandemic, since his dance school shutdown because of economic difficulties.

“In the beginning it was very complicated, I was accustomed to another routine, a different way of life, but we have to adapt, to hustle, because I needed the money, I began doing the deliveries”, he tells us. The same happened to Pâmella Nascimento, who began working as motorcycle delivery person for Rappi and Zé Delivery at the outset of the pandemic. “I was fired and had no other choice but to use the tools I had available to guarantee some income”, she affirmed.

In the midst of a pandemic, these delivery workers (almost always riding motorcycles), are more susceptible to contagion, since they are the only people circulating in the streets and in contact with employees and clients of the businesses they serve. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that they be well protected while performing their duties.

“We try to follow the World Health Organizatioin’s guidelines, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, we’re trying to adapt our personal higiene”, relates Pâmella. However, these workers are being ignored even when it comes to PPEs.

“It’s worth noting that personal protective equipment, be it hand sanitizer, maks or gloves, are all paid for by the motorcyclist or bicyclist. We have no support”, sais Rhaldiney Santos, another delivery partner working for most of the different platforms.

“The biggest concern is the risk of contamination, I have family members who are high risk and I am taking care of my own health as well”, adds the worker.

These laborers face much bigger problems than simply finding the location of a client, as was the case with Rhaldiney, who got into an accident and had to pay all the medical bills himself. “I was riding and there was some sludge on the road and I ended up crashing. Since we are not insured, I had to pay from my own pocket all the bills.”

Besides this, harassment of female delivery workers is something that affects women in the field. “Unfortunately, I’ve been harassed a few times, the last time this male client was drunk and “inviting” to go somewhere with him, propositioning me at 11 pm”, warned Pâmella.

Rodolpho on the other hand noticed that even though he has suffered homophobia from clients, being mistreated by the employees of the businesses he serves is the most frustrating thing. “Besides the snotty, homophobic comments from people, the most frustrating thing was that once I had to spend 3 hours in front of a restaurant waiting for food, all the while the manager was being super rude, berating us the whole time,” he recounts.


On July 25th, the delivery workers will stage another strike, demanding better conditions at work, more support from the app companies and an increase in their base fares. All those interviewed for this piece work 10 to 12 hours daily with only one day off a week, just in order to guarantee the minimum they need to survive.

“The #BrequedosApps (breaking the apps) Movement is important in order to highlight the precariousness of our labor, the delivery Union shows that we still know our rights as workers”, says Pâmella, which is one of the Movement’s leaders.

“When people began to understand how risky this job really is, the amount of problems we face, people will back us up”, thinks Rodolpho, who recommends “on the day of the strike, those who can avoid making any delivery requests and give the apps a bad rating to do so, it would be fantastic, we can then strengthen our movement”

Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas e Vanessa Gonzaga