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Poor wages, punishing hours, and lack of labour rights make food delivery a thankless gig

Receive order. Pick up food. Reach customer location. Deliver. Get Rs.35 per batch and Rs.20 per order. This was the daily drill for 20-something Varadarajan, a food delivery executive in April 2018, when he started working in Chennai. For each order, the distance was under 4 km, and if he made 20 deliveries, he was promised an additional Rs 80. Then he noticed something. He rarely got to do 20 deliveries, which meant he never got that extra rs.80 bonus.

“In restaurants, we are looked down upon as uninvited guests. There are people who won’t even share an elevator with us. In case of an accident, the delivery person is always held at fault,” says Varadarajan. Stung by the discrimination and ill-treatment, he quit, and has since worked with Zomato, Uber Eats, Uber Moto and Shadowfax to see if it gets better elsewhere.