The National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) will be drawing up proposals in the next few months to see how the union can make sure proper protection is given to delivery riders by working hand-in-hand with the Government and partnering delivery companies.

Speaking to Mothership in a live doorstep interview on Thursday (26 August), NTUC’s Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said that the union will be proposing for fairer terms and conditions for delivery riders, better workplace conditions and safety, as well as medical benefits.

He noted that the best and sustainable way to protect these workers is to come up with a “win-win-win” situation across the board by the Government, union and companies.

Currently delivery riders cannot be unionised by NTUC as they are legally categorised under the self-employed persons (SEPs), said Mr Ng.

In a video uploaded by Mothership, one can see that Mr Ng, along with People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Yeo Wan Ling for Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC, who is also director of NTUC’s enterprise arm U SME, went around an area in Ang Mo Kio to speak with several delivery riders from various companies to hear their concerns regarding the job.

Most of the delivery riders that Mr Ng spoke to highlighted the lack of medical benefits and insurance coverage.

One rider shared that the assistance will only be given if he or she is sick for more than five days, and such top line articulation of medical coverage is insufficient.

They also pointed out to both Mr Ng and Ms Yeo about the different incentives and rates, as well as how they don’t have any control over them at all.

The NTUC Secretary-General also added that the riders also talked about the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as they are not able to make contributions given that their salary is enough to just make ends meet.

To this, Mr Ng noted that NTUC will be able to step in and help the riders deal with issues in these areas.

Delivery riders in “gray zone” as they’re neither freelancer nor full-time employee

In the video, Mr Ng repeatedly mentioned that delivery riders are in a “gray zone”, and are more “employee-like” rather than self-employed individuals.

“Our rider brothers are kind of in a gray zone. You’re not really a freelancer, not an employee either. What NTUC is looking at providing more fair terms and conditions with the companies, and make sure you have the necessary work conditions,” he said, adding that NTUC is concerned about riders involving in accidents and hope to give them some help, at least in terms of “medical expenses and income compensation”.

Ms Yeo explained that delivery riders have to take care of a lot of things by themselves, including their insurance, long-term planning and retirement.

She also went on to note that they are also not able to set their own terms for their businesses, such as how much to charge customers and their working hours.

Netizens call the act “wayang”

Under the comment section of the video, online users slammed Mr Ng and Ms Yeo for walking on the streets with a camera crew and speaking with delivery riders, calling the whole act a “wayang” and “scripted”. They added that Mr Ng never did such a thing when he was a Member of Parliament, and that it’s too late for him to show his concerns about the people right now.

Mr Ng was a former MP for Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC after the General Election 2015, however, he lost his bid for another term after contesting at the newly created Seng Kang GRC against Workers’ Party’s team in GE2020 with a result of 47.88% to 52.12%.

One user questioned why Mr Ng is asking such basic questions to these delivery riders, while another netizen warned NTUC to not come up with many terms and conditions for these riders to fulfil before the assistance is given to them.

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