Gorillas delivery app sacks hundreds of Berlin employees over strikes over wages and working conditions
Ten-minute grocery delivery company Gorillas has reportedly sacked hundreds of its runners for participating in a series of wildcat strikes in Berlin over the weekend.
The Gorillas Workers Collective, which represents the company’s non-union delivery men, told Euronews Next that 350 runners were sacked by the company for their involvement in the strikes.
Gorillas confirmed to Euronews Next that it had sacked workers who had taken part in the strikes, but declined to say how many had been sacked.
“We are obliged to enforce our rights in accordance with the existing legal framework and have decided to fire employees who have actively participated in these unauthorized strikes and blockades,” the company said.
Under German law, strikes are only legal if they are sanctioned by a recognized trade union.
“On Tuesday morning, people started being fired one by one, first with a call telling workers they had been fired because they were on strike, then with a dismissal letter,” told Euronews Next a representative of the Collective.
Allegations of poor working conditions
Gorillas’ decision to fire the strikers, who are by law employees and not self-employed, represents a change in tactics for the company, founded last May, which has faced an intermittent strike in Germany since February this year. year.
The Berlin-based start-up has long faced allegations of poor pay and working conditions from its riders, who allege that the company frequently makes mistakes or is in arrears, that bicycles and safety equipment is poorly maintained, and work schedules leave little time between shifts. and that Gorillas’ warehouses are chronically understaffed.
In response, the company said it had worked quickly to rectify payment errors and hired “a significant number” of runners to alleviate staffing issues.
He also said he introduced a new bonus system for runners as well as a new “runner’s kit” and safety equipment, although a representative of the Gorillas Workers Collective told Euronews Next that he was not. aware of any of these changes.
Earlier this week, the Gorillas Workers Collective released a leaked conversation on Slack which appeared to show that the company’s CEO, Kağan Sümer, was seeking advice from his colleagues on firing a worker who was trying to form a union.
“We have an emergency. We had to fire one of our runners. Apparently he was unionizing, now they’re making a big buzz on Twitter. Hello :(” Sümer wrote.
Gorillas Horsemen’s chief of operations, Nicolas Betancurt, gave more context to the horseman’s dismissal, saying “he asked the horsemen to strike and not give any orders.”
The company has confirmed that the leaked screenshot is real.
Wildcat strikes “not allowed in Germany”
The Gorillas workers’ collective – which is currently trying to form a works council in Gorillas – said it was able to reinstate the sacked rider after proving the company had made a formal error in sacking them.
Despite this, a Berlin union representative told Euronews Next that it could prove difficult to achieve the same result for riders made redundant this week.
“Unfortunately, Gorillas is right. ‘Wildcat strikes’, political strikes or general strikes are not allowed in Germany. Anyone who takes part in such a strike risks being fired,” said Andreas Splanemann of the Verdi union.
“We condemn the employer to have dismissed the strikers. However, it is feared that the labor courts will also recognize the dismissals as legal if formal errors have not been made,” he added.