Cyprus Mail

Labour ministry to talk with striking Wolt drivers

Wolt drivers protesting in Limassol
File photo: Wolt drivers at a previous protest in Limassol

After a week of ongoing strikes, Wolt drivers and all involved parties have been invited to a meeting at the labour ministry.

The meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday morning at 9:30am, where the labour relations department has invited Wolt and its employees – which will be represented by a small group – as well as unions to the meeting.

Last week, the ministry took over 100 interviews from protestors in Nicosia and Limassol who say agents operating as fleet managers for Wolt, cut some 40 per cent of the wages.

On Tuesday, drivers demonstrated outside the labour office in Nicosia where they held placards saying “we want justice”. Drivers and passersby honked their cars and shouted out their support to the drivers, as calls for boycotting Wolt have already come to the fore.

They gave a letter to the department’s head Andy Apostolou, calling for help in finding a solution. “Every passing day, employees are being threatened and under tremendous pressure from their employers to return to work.”

Last week, Peo union submitted a formal complaint to the labour ministry over the way drivers are being treated. A union rep told the Cyprus Mail not only is the standard practice abhorrent, there are even fleet managers which deduct social insurance contributions but don’t actually pay them into the system.

The protests started in Nicosia last Tuesday and sparked a domino effect across other cities, leading to a nationwide strike, leading to Wolt having issues in offering delivery services in some areas.

Larnaca drivers suspended the strike saying they were happy with assurances a solution could be met however Peo has cried foul saying this is a result of misinformation given to drivers.

The problem lies in several pay cuts drivers say they have received, which has also brought to light the issue surrounding third-party companies or fleet managers that hire the drivers.

EU nationals can work as freelancers with Wolt, enjoying rates of above €8.50 per hour. However, asylum seekers, political refugees and students can only work through fleet managers where they get a rate of around €2.40 per hour which has also been reduced, and thus prompted the strike.

Drivers say these managers cut some 40 per cent of their wages. Around 10 per cent goes towards social insurance and Gesy contributions. The remaining 30 per cent that fleet managers get has become a bone of contention.

Extra expenses such as fuel, uniform and call expenses are on drivers to cover, they say.

A union representative from Sek said they were awaiting for parliament to begin again so they could see how the matter could be resolved, adding that “when (Wolt’s) platform began, its philosophy did not envision agents.”

Only one agent agreed to speak to the Cyprus Mail on condition of anonymity, arguing that the cut is 35 per cent (not 40) and accusing striking drivers of bullying non-striking drivers into not working. He said fleet managers were barely making any profit.

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