Grab Fury: Unhappy Riders shut down Phetchaburi Road, execs refuse to talk

Grab riders at 1:30pm Thursday  flooded the Phetchaburi Road, shutting down traffic until corporate management change course and meet with them. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Grab riders at 1:30pm Thursday flooded the Phetchaburi Road, shutting down traffic until corporate management change course and meet with them. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Hundreds of angry Grab riders converged on the company’s headquarters on Phetchaburi Road this afternoon to demand its executives address their grievances.

At about 1:30pm on Thursday, the drivers flooded the street, shutting down traffic until corporate management changed course and met with them. Just before 2pm, they withdrew after executives said they would appear. 

They had not appeared as of 4pm and apparently reneged on their promise, with a company representative saying they would respond to the riders within 14 days.

Those protesting said they have been forced for the past year to work more for the same pay as fuel prices and inflation surged, leaving them no choice but to bring their complaints directly to company management.

One of the most urgent complaints stemmed from a year-old quota system requiring a minimum number of rides despite the fact riders must also compete for “time slots” due to a glut of riders.

“This is not a freelance job like advertising. We no longer can work anytime we want. Sometimes the riders need to care for their family or have other urgent matters,” said Ketsiri Phusitthananan. She has been riding for two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic started. 

Ketsiri Phusitthananan, 42, poses for a photo on Thursday afternoon. She has been riding for two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Ketsiti, 42, said working conditions have changed since the pandemic’s eruption prompted record numbers of new drivers to join the ranks.

Riders unable to get scheduled can’t get work, and without enough work, their pay decreases significantly.

“If I cannot book my timeslot, I don’t get jobs,” said a rider who identified himself only as Earth because he feared repercussions from his employer. “And there are so many riders these days, after COVID.”

This month, they will need many jobs in order to meet a quota that dictates their pay.

“We’re here to talk. Please come down, the No.1 app. Riders are dying,” a Grab rider raises a sign in front of the Grab office on the Phetchaburi Road. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

The company reorganized riders in different tiers which limited what types of jobs – food, people, parcels – they can accept and set quotas.

“Champion” riders must complete at least 95 rides per week to get a stipend of THB5,000, while “Hybrid” riders must do 45 jobs for THB3,000. Riders are required to work a minimum of Saturday and Sunday jobs.

If the riders cannot meet the quota, they will be demoted to a lower tier called “GB.”

“They should cancel these tiers that put pressure on us to work harder. The GB riders get less pay compared to Champion,” Earth said.

Grab riders on Nov. 3, 2022, gather in front of Thanapoom building on the Phetchaburi Road. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

Labor rights activist Akrawat Siripattanachok said the ride-sharing and delivery firm’s changes have placed a higher burden on riders to work longer hours to earn roughly the same pay.

“Grab has modified the riders’ employment conditions, making it tougher for them to make ends meet,” said Akrawat of Just Economy & Labor Institute (JELI). “This affects the health and safety of the riders. Grab has charged its customers more, but at the same time it forced the riders to receive less pay.”

The leaders of the group said they would fight on and demand help from the Labor Ministry.

Grab riders on Nov. 3, 2022, gather in front of Thanapoom building on the Phetchaburi Road. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Grab riders on Thursday afternoon flood the Phetchaburi Road, shutting down traffic until corporate management change course and meet with them. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Grab riders on Nov. 3, 2022, gather in front of Thanapoom building on the Phetchaburi Road. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Grab riders on Nov. 3, 2022, gather in front of Thanapoom building on the Phetchaburi Road. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok
Grab riders on Thursday afternoon flood the Phetchaburi Road, shutting down traffic until corporate management change course and meet with them. Photo: Chayanit Itthipongmaetee / Coconuts Bangkok

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