Some 200 Wolt drivers were striking across Nicosia and Limassol on Thursday, over accusations they were being exploited and getting pay cuts amid increasing costs.
Around 150 drivers in Nicosia have been protesting for three days in a row, while in Limassol about 60 drivers took up the strike for the first time on Thursday marching on Makarios Avenue holding placards saying, “we want justice”, inspired by their colleagues in the capital.
Wolt was no longer able to offer services to parts in Nicosia due to the striking drivers. Peo union said it filed a complaint with the labour relations department “over the medieval working conditions.”
In both cities, drivers carried out peaceful protests outside the company offices but drivers who spoke to the Cyprus Mail on condition of anonymity said they will continue their strikes until a solution is found. “So far, no one has come to speak to us about anything.”
Wolt has distanced itself from the strike, saying the problem lies with third-party companies called fleet managers that hire the drivers. The companies strike up agreements with the drivers but get compensated by Wolt.
It appears what trickles down to drivers is a fraction of their earnings, with drivers saying about 40 per cent of their earnings are kept by the agents they have, operating as fleet managers.
Protesting for the third day in a row now, around 150 drivers in Nicosia say their wages continue to be slashed amid increasing fuel costs – which they have to cover themselves – and a higher cost of living.
During the protest on Digeni Akrita in the capital, labour ministry officials arrived at the scene in a bid to better understand the contractual terms drivers have.
A message on the Wolt website and app now says “sorry, delivery in your area is temporarily closed. There aren’t enough partners in your area right now – so we can’t take any new delivery orders for a while. You can place an order for pickup or try again later. Sorry for the hassle!”
Instead, many of the drivers have had their Wolt accounts deactivated. The delivery service said this was done “to ensure the proper operation and service for the customer.”
A picture of a posted reading “Solidarity to delivery drivers! Boycott Wolt” was being circulated around social media.
Wolt compensates the fleet managers with a rate of around €8.5 which factors in time, distance, accessibility and couriers’ availability, according to the company.
It is then up to the fleet managers to distribute the wages to drivers. The problem lies in the fact that these fleet managers – usually agents that also prepare the paperwork for the drivers – keep a cut of around 40 per cent. Some 30 per cent is an “agent fee” while the rest includes social insurance contributions.
According to the drivers, they used to get between €2.40 – €2.60 per ride, but this has been cut to around €2.26. They also seek the restoration of the €0.50 compensation per kilometre for all routes, as well as €1.10 for deliveries done in the rain.
Most drivers are third-country nationals who are students, asylum seekers or political refugees and accuse the fleet managers of exploiting them because of that.
“They are using us. They think because we are students that we don’t have any other choice.
“We are in the streets every day, risking our lives to do our job and then they cut our salaries. The normal thing is that the longer you work in a company, you get an increase not a decrease.
“We hope that the Cypriot people can support us. We bring them their food and coffee every day, we hope they can support us.”
Wolt has distanced itself from the strike saying the problem is with the arrangements between drivers and fleet managers.
Members of the Peo union also joined the peaceful protestors, saying the drivers don’t get sick leave, public holidays or time schedules, while also facing pay cuts.