Food delivery riders’ mental health needs more attention: survey

2023-09-08 03:34     BY Yuki Lei    Comment:0

Nearly 40 pct of riders are degree holders

The Macau Federation of Trade Unions (commonly known as Gung Luen in Cantonese), local think tank Choi In Tong Sam and the Macao Observatory for Social Development of the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) have jointly carried out the city’s first-ever survey of Macau’s growing food delivery industry and the working conditions of its motorbike riders, with nearly 37 percent of the respondents saying that they often feel physically or emotionally depleted, or spiritually drained, which shows, according to the co-organisers of the survey, that the government ought to pay closer attention to food delivery riders’ mental health so as to prevent more traffic accidents.

Even though about 900 people in Macau work as food delivery riders, until now there had been no relevant market research and policy research surveys concerning the emerging industry and, therefore, the three groups released 230 questionnaires online between February and May, of which 134 valid questionnaires were collected from food delivery riders aged between 26 and 35, with full-time employees accounting for nearly 60 percent of the respondents.

Among the 134 respondents, about 30 percent said that they joined the industry after losing their previous jobs, while more than 25 percent said they chose the job because of the flexible working hours that it offers.

The findings of the survey show that 17.9 percent, 40.3 percent and 39.6 percent of the respondents are, respectively, graduates of junior high schools and senior high schools, and degree holders.

The survey also points out that accident protection measures provided by the companies such as helmets and work-related insurance for Macau’s food delivery riders was insufficient, with more than 57 percent saying that they did not have enough protection at work, while 34 percent of the respondents pointed out that they were not familiar with the accident injury compensation procedures and over 25 percent said that it was somewhat difficult or very difficult to settle claims after an accident.

In terms of the food delivery riders’ passive position on order dispatches, over 70 percent of the respondents said that they were unable to reject any orders, as otherwise their wages would be reduced.

Prof. Jacky Ho Chong Kin, who heads the Macao Observatory for Social Development of the USJ, urged the government during a press conference yesterday on the campus in Ilha Verde district to strengthen the sector’s supervision and require the three local food delivery platforms to provide transparent and clear delivery rules and procedures, so as to ensure fairness and rational working conditions for their employees.

Concerning that food delivery riders generally suffer a moderately high level of subjective pain, in which most of the respondents said that the only reason for them to work at all was to “earn money”, directly-elected lawmaker-cum-unionist Leong Sun Iok urged the government during the press conference to work together with civic associations to jointly carry out a range of emotional and spiritual support measures, such as psychological counselling services and emotional management and stress relief training while, at the same time, setting up a support network platform for food delivery riders to share their experiences and thoughts.

In addition, according to Leong, civil society should also strengthen its  understanding of the riders’ situation, paying more attention to their work and providing them with more consideration and respect.

Taking the safety and hygiene of food distribution into account, Leong also urged the government to cooperate with food delivery companies to provide on-the-job training for their workers and raise their legal awareness and self-protection ability, so that they can take appropriate action when encountering road safety problems. 

Prof. Jacky Ho Chong Kin (right), who heads USJ’s Macao Observatory for Social Development, and directly-elected lawmaker-cum-unionist Leong Sun Iok release the findings of a survey about the food delivery industry during yesterday’s press conference on the USJ campus in Ilha Verde district.
– Photo: Yuki Lei

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