DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 October) — The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC)-Davao granted the motion to release the appeal cash bond of P2.2 million to partially satisfy the judgment award of P4.2 million for delivery riders illegally dismissed by Foodpanda Philippines.
The delivery riders had earlier filed a motion with the NLRC-Davao last September 4 for the release of the appeal cash bond of P2,223,466 posted by the company.
In an order dated September 28, a copy of which was released to media on October 1, Labor Arbiter Rovyne G. Jumao-a granted the dismissed delivery riders’ motion to release the bond as partial payment of the P4,237,300.50 Foodpanda is supposed to pay the workers.
She said complaints Edmund D. Carrillo, Francis Ghlenn S. Costan, Nerjhun H. Claramon, Jeffrey B. Cabusas, Nawar S. Solaiman, Manuel D. Lapiña, and Roberto J. Gonzaga “manifested and confirmed that they have unanimously agreed to have the check issued in the name of their counsel.”
In a decision dated December 5, the NLRC 8th Division ruled that the delivery riders were “regular workers” and that they were illegally dismissed.
It affirmed Labor Arbiter’s finding of an employer-employee relationship between Foodpanda and delivery riders.
NLRC dismissed the position of the company that the delivery riders were mere “independent contractors.”
The agency said the Foodpanda’s imposition of a 10-year suspension from the firm’s rider application until June 13, 2031, was tantamount to a constructive dismissal.
“The unusually long period of suspension is clearly a dismissal in disguise as the complainants-appellees or any one in their position would have felt compelled to give up his position under the circumstances,” it added.
Employing the four-fold test, the NLRC said Foodpanda exercises power of selection and engagement, payment of wages, power of dismissal or discipline, and power of control over the riders’ conduct.
It said “power of selection and engagement” is manifest as Food Panda is “free to accept or decline engagement of an applicant based on its set of metrics” while the summary of weekly earnings and total earnings of the riders based on hours worked “is a substantial indicator of the payment of wages.”
It added that withdrawal of access to the Rider App is “punitive disciplinary measure rather than a preventive measure.”
“Considering that the withdrawal of access to Rider App (was) meted after FP’s (Food Panda) delivery riders’ alleged violation, the measures alluded to by respondent FP is necessarily of its power to discipline,” the NLRC said.
The NLRC also examined circumstances that established Food Panda’s exercising power of control over the delivery riders such as designing and controlling the scheduling of their work, employing a rating system, evaluating the rider’s weekly performance, and monitoring the activities of its riders, among others.
“Through taking and processing of online data and GPS system, Food Panda closely monitors the riders’ taking of delivery requests, routes, location, time of delivery, phone and SMS communication with the clients, and actual completion of delivery,” it said.
In 2021, the terminated delivery riders were accused of initiating a “No Show” campaign, urging other riders not to show up on their assigned schedule in protest of inconsistent earnings they received as “service fees” from Foodpanda.
Although the campaign did not push through as complainants were reluctant to “forego a day’s worth of income,” they were shocked to learn that they, along with 100 other riders, were suspended from accessing Foodpanda’s mobile application for their alleged participation in the planning of the supposed protest.
According to the Labor Arbiter, the firm subsequently established a Whistleblower Program via Google forms and encouraged suspended riders from reporting the persons behind the campaign in exchange for reinstatement. (Antonio Colina IV / MindaNews)