Riders bid for rights
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Riders bid for rights

Move Forward Party (MFP) MPs wore vests usually worn by delivery riders during a parliamentary session this week to draw public attention to the plight of those working for food delivery platforms.

This move by the MPs follows a rally by platform food-delivery riders in front of the Ministry of Labour to demand protections under the social security scheme.

The riders claim the precarious nature of their delivery work leaves them vulnerable to road accidents which could result in injury, disability, loss of income or in the worst case, death.

This is not the first time food delivery riders have protested about the lack of legal protection in the event of a road accident.

They must have insurance coverage paid for by themselves or their platform companies.

In reality, most riders do not have insurance coverage simply because they cannot afford the fees, and most platforms do not buy insurance coverage for their riders because they are not treated as employees but as informal partners.

However, one of the riders, Suphaporn Panprasit, insists the platform riders are employees because they are governed by rules introduced by platform companies and are charged a commission for the delivery service fees.

The new labour minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, must resolve this matter, and it is hoped the ministry's drafting of a law governing informal workers, including riders, farmers and freelancers, will meet expectations and solve some of these issues.

But as a matter of principle, workers, whether permanent, temporary, or informal, should have access to social security protection.

One way to bring these informal workers into the social security system is to include them in the tax system by having them pay taxes based on their taxable income and making contributions to the Social Security Fund like other taxpayers.

As it currently stands, most riders do not pay personal income taxes or contributions to the Social Security Fund.

So, the ministry faces a challenge to design a system to make them members of the fund.

But where there is a will, there is a way. During a period where there is no law regarding informal workers, riders can unite to form a cooperative like a taxi cooperative and subscribe to a social security scheme.

Through such a measure, the riders will be protected under the social security scheme.

While riders are demanding cover, they need to be reminded they must exercise caution to help ensure they can avoid accidents.

A common practice often seen on Bangkok's streets is riders motoring along on their bikes while looking at their smartphones.

It's an unsafe practice. Carelessness while riding is behind many of the accidents experienced by the delivery riders.

The gig economy is fast expanding in Thailand, and new types of platform-based jobs can only be expected, which will alter the future job market landscape.

Amid it all, the Ministry of Labour appears to be acting too slowly to keep up with the pace of change in the digital landscape.

The government should step in to take the lead and ensure the basic rights of the platform-based workers and those future digital workers.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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