Should We Blame People Who Order Pizza When It Snows?*

The Covid-19 pandemic has been transforming societies’ consumption patterns in various

manners. The most uprising trends in Turkey are online delivery applications such as Getir, Yemeksepeti, and Trendyol. These brands are fancy by their commitment to fast delivery, facility of following couriers step by step, and response to demand and need for contactless delivery. The increasing demand for online shopping contributed to the emergence of various sub-categories such as Yemeksepeti Banabi, Getir Esnaf, and Trendyol Hızlı Market under these applications.

Hence, online delivery system-based applications were required to hire more couriers and increase their capacity for services. It is inevitable for couriers to experience right violations and insecure working conditions in such an atmosphere. For instance, couriers undergo accidents on rainy and snowy days. It is possible to encounter courier deaths in the news. Especially in the winter, when the weather is harsh for transportation, couriers are mandatory to fulfill their jobs. Videos that demonstrate the challenging conditions of couriers are shared on social media platforms. Subsequently, people on social media are divided into two: “It is inhumane to order Getir when it snows.” and “No matter what happens, it is their job to deliver my order, so there is no problem with ordering Getir when it snows.”

Then, should we blame people who order pizza when it snows?

Who is right? Does the fact that a courier’s job is to deliver the orders in a given time justify risking their security? If there is such a facility of using an app rather than going to a market in snowy weather, and there are couriers paid for this job, what is the problem with that?

I think that the main question here is not whether we should order or not. This problem cannot be solved by pushing people to be considerate. If there is an option of ordering a pizza when it snows, the consumer definitely wants to benefit. I think what prevents insecure conditions for couriers is policymakers’ attitudes toward this problem.

According to an interview with Çağdaş Yavuz (Yıldız Ünal 2022), Chairman of Tüm Anadolu Motosikletli Kuryeler Federasyonu (All Anatolian Motorcycle Couriers Federation) claims that the model of tradespeople courier violates fundamental worker rights of couriers. Workers burden all expenditures such as the motorcycle, insurance, and fuel. They only earn per pocket, and their earnings do not correspond to costs. Due to the tradespeople’s courier model’s status in law, couriers are not regarded as employers of a company. They have their own business, enabling companies to escape from their responsibilities. A quote from the film “Sorry We Missed You,” directed by Ken Loach, utterly reflects the pathetic situation couriers experience: “You don’t work for us, you work with us.” (Anon 2019) They become so-called partners of the companies without benefiting from any profits and are exploited.

Hence, a new problem occurs: if couriers are neither an employee in the laws nor an employer in practice, where can we seek the solution? Who makes decisions regarding couriers’ working conditions? Who are these couriers?

Marx would probably define couriers as dangerous classes as they can easily be manipulated and cannot be used for a proletarian revolution. (Marx and Engels [1848] 1848:20) They are deemed hazardous for not being regularly employed, having a flexible job that requires working in several positions, and lacking stability. All these factors lead to anxiety and do not provide social security. British economist Guy Standing coins out a new term for the class that Marx identifies as dangerous: the precariat. They are neither proletariat nor bourgeoise since they have distinctive relations of production, by Standing’s terms. He mentions that a precariat’s link to the state is highly discrete. (Standing 2014) They cannot benefit from public services -for instance, insurance in this context- as much as other workers can, which forces them to expose undesirable working conditions. Furthermore, one of the components of the precariat Guy Standing mentions is being young. The precariat is frequently educated, young, and constantly anxious about salary. (Standing 2014) As I mentioned before, couriers have to work more than average due to their earning system. Their earnings are never enough due to the financial crisis and expenditures that companies don’t cover.

Now, as we have identified the couriers in a class position, our main question can be answered:

Should we blame people who order pizza when it snows?

The basic answer is no.

We cannot accuse consumers while giving them the chance to order. Even if we do, that will not solve any problem. The point is that as long as couriers work within such regulations, their insecure working conditions sustain.

Start from questioning the working regulations, not the consumers.

*This paper is written for Soc 324 class at Boğaziçi University, in the 2022 spring term.

Bibliography

Anon. 2019. Sorry We Missed You. Rebecca O’Brien.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. [1848] 1848. Communist Manifesto. J E Burghard.

Standing, Guy. 2014. “The Precariat.” Contexts 13(4):10–12. doi: 10.1177/1536504214558209.

Yıldız Ünal, Arife. 2022. “Motorlu Kuryeler ‘Esnaf Kurye’ Modeline ‘Hak Garantili Sözleşme’ Istiyor.” Www.aa.com.tr. Retrieved May 11, 2022 (https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/ekonomi/motorlu-kuryeler-esnaf-kurye-modeline-hak-garantili-sozlesme-istiyor/2496697).

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Elif Feyza Dinç

I am a sociology and political sciences & international relations student at Boğaziçi University. I publish the papers I write during my graduate period.