Exhausted deliverymen, “tied up” restaurants: it grows

Every day, delivery man Adriano da Costa leaves the house before nine, takes two buses to Avenida Paulista and takes the electric bike from the iFood app in the late morning.

“I start deliveries between 11 am and 11:30 am”, says the resident of the Vila Nova Jaraguá housing complex, in the west of São Paulo (SP).

iFood allows you to rent bikes for up to four hours, at a weekly cost of R$24, with the right to two pickups per day.

“So I use four hours, return it, and take another one later in the evening, at dinner time, to use another four hours.”

In the afternoon break, Adriano rents bicycles from Banco Itaú to continue delivering meals. In this case, the vehicle is not electric, which makes the journey even heavier.

It’s an average of ten hours of work a day, and the commute time makes him stay away from home all day. When he returns, it is past midnight and he is exhausted.

“I take off whenever I want. The app, I call whenever you want. But I end up working from Monday to Sunday, out of necessity. Because I have a child’s pension to pay, I have expenses”, he exemplifies.

For about a year and a half, Adriano has received an average of R$ 2,800 per month from the application, and he alone covers the costs of transport and food throughout the day.

Although there are divergent decisions, the Brazilian Court does not usually recognize an employment relationship between couriers and applications.

The lack of specific legislation in the country generates legal instability and means that they are sometimes treated as self-employed, sometimes as independent, and more rarely as formal workers, according to the CLT.

Application delivery people are mobilized in several Brazilian cities / Jaqueline Deister

Adriano’s two main complaints concern the mileage limit for bicycles and the high fees charged by the app.

“In some cases, there is delivery of 5 km, 7 km for us to cycle under the hot sun. This mileage should be for motorcycle only. The limit for us should be 4 km”, he says.

“And sometimes he pays R$7 for 6 km. It doesn’t pay. If the guy spends 30 minutes waiting for the order to come out of the restaurant, he loses an hour to make a delivery.”

Questioning about the amount paid for delivery is the most frequent among motoboys.

João Francisco* works 11 hours a day in Belo Horizonte (MG) and says that there was no readjustment proportional to the increase in fuel prices in the country.

“I moved house, had to come live in a more remote neighborhood, because I couldn’t pay the rent. Depending on the day, I do the calculation and see that I’m paying to work. There’s nothing left,” he says.

“The first opportunity that a job with a formal contract arises, in any area, I’ll take it. But, today, if I give up or am excluded from the platform, the next day I’ll be on the street asking for help”, completes the motoboy, who works for three different applications and chose not to reveal his name to avoid punishment.

In addition to unemployment, the flattening of wages in the formal labor market also causes many drivers, even dissatisfied with the rates, to remain in applications.

Adriano da Costa says that he worked for 5 and a half years as a forklift operator at Grupo Pão de Açúcar, one of the largest retail chains in Brazil, and his monthly remuneration was always lower than his current job at iFood.

Bad for everyone?

The dissatisfaction of deliverymen with the conditions offered by the platforms has been growing in Brazil. Since 2020, couriers from several cities have been protesting for improvements in the relationship and guarantees of rights.

The best known manifestation was the “Breque dos Apps” in July of last year, a national strike with great participation in São Paulo and other capitals.

“I’ve already witnessed several demonstrations. And there are people who just don’t participate, because that same day they need to make money, because they have debt to pay. So, this person wants improvement, but it won’t stop”, analyzes Adriano, who has never participated in acts against companies in the sector to avoid being excluded from the platform.

João Francisco says he tries to “pass away” from the protests, not to be mistaken for a protester and not put his work at risk.

Their concern makes sense. One of the articulators of the national strike in 2020, deliveryman Paulo Lima, known as Galo, was immediately banned from the main applications.

While deliverymen face exhausting journeys to pay the bills, on the other side of the counter the situation is also uncomfortable.

According to information obtained by the Brazil in fact, the fees charged to restaurants for the apps reach 30% per delivery to UberEats.

“If we could choose, we would go back to what it was before, without the apps”, says Luiz Fernando*, owner of a pizzeria in Porto Alegre (RS).

“But today, a pizzeria like ours, which needs to have a large volume of deliveries to survive, can’t stay out of an iFood, a UberEats, if the competition doesn’t run over.”

The entrepreneur also prefers not to identify himself so as not to “get a problem” with the application companies.

Workers demand readjustment of delivery fee, among other rights / Photo: Roberto Parizotti/Fotos Públicas

Luiz Fernando remembers that his pizzeria was one of the last in the city to surrender to digital delivery platforms.

“There came a time, in the middle of the pandemic, that it didn’t happen anymore. I saw the neighbor, who always had fewer customers, making twice as many deliveries as us, just because he was registered in the app. And our delivery boy, stopped”, he explains.

Today, this delivery guy who worked only for Luiz Fernando’s pizzeria delivers by application in the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre.

“These companies end up eating a good part of the value of the pizza, but there’s no way around it: if you don’t enter the app, you’re not seen, you’re not remembered. The number of orders per night ends up being smaller”, reports the businessman.


According to estimates by the National Association of Restaurants, the average share of delivery in the total revenue of restaurants jumped from 11% to 21% between the beginning of the pandemic and December 2020.

Paulo César da Motta is one of the owners of the Empório do Aroma cafe and restaurant, in downtown Curitiba (PR). The establishment opened a week before the first. lockdown in the city in March 2020.

“We studied the feasibility of entering delivery applications. But, with the proposals they had, the fees, and all the investment that we would need to make in relation to packaging, for example, we understood that it would not be advantageous”, he says.

Another factor that made this choice unfeasible was that the value of the deliveries would only enter the owners’ account 30 days later.

Today, Empório do Aroma is one of the few cafes in the region that survives even without being registered in applications.

“Making the calculations in relation to the prices they charge and the percentage that we would have to leave for the application, we saw that it wasn’t worth it”, he says.

When talking to other businessmen in the field, Paulo César understood that entering the application would generate a sudden increase in customers, but would not bring benefits in the long term.

“What we’ve been told is that starting in the app always generates a boom sales, which is an illusion. You are in a good position, think that it will be permanent and make a bigger stock of purchases. But then, new ventures enter the application and yours is hidden”, says the entrepreneur.

Another reason for not opting for platforms is the growing precariousness of the delivery workers’ work.

“All work deserves decent remuneration. When we saw that the delivery person received BRL 3 or BRL 4 for a distance of more than 5 km, we considered that, by entering a delivery app, we would be contributing to the exploration of work – and with a packaging market that was practicing unrealistic values”, he completes.

Applications do not work with a fixed amount by distance or by delivery. According to iFood, “per km traveled in the total distance, a minimum of R$1 is transferred to the delivery person. In addition, there is an additional fee if you are away from the restaurant. In most cities, this fee is added from 5 km away.”

Today, Paulo César and his partner Vladimir carry out deliveries with their own car, but at restricted times, so as not to jeopardize face-to-face service and product quality.

Empório do Aroma is an exception in the largest cities in the country. The delivery-by-application model became even more popular in the pandemic, and protests from delivery people have had an effect in specific cases.

“The pressure is paying off,” motorcycle courier Altemício Nascimento told Brasil de Fato, who followed the iFood negotiations with a group of deliverymen who went on strike in São José dos Campos (SP) in September.

In addition to the readjustment in the amount paid per kilometer or per delivery, the demands of the strike included the end of undue blockages, the requirement for a confirmation code on deliveries and better rest spots.

In São José, motoboys received three orders from the application at the same time.

“On the 28th, they promised to change the rates and take the three orders. Because today it goes straight to the screen of the ‘motoca’ three orders. In other words, the guy makes two free requests for iFood. There’s no way,” explained Altemício.

In the interior of São Paulo, the strike was supported by bars and restaurants, which understood the reasons for the strike. At the same time, the deliverymen were open to dialogue and returned to work after six days, so as not to harm the businessmen.

The motoboys announced that they will stop activities again if iFood does not fulfill its promises.

Luiz Fernando, owner of the pizzeria in the city of Rio Grande do Sul, says that conditions will only improve if motoboys and small businessmen claim rights together.

“Too bad it’s hard to build this idea. We’re in the same boat, but in the rush of everyday life, we even argue with them, we talk, because some delivery guys are at the door pressing for the order to come out soon”, he says.

“The correct thing would be for us to close with them, and find a way to ask for better conditions for everyone. Today is not good for anyone”, concludes.

Other side

O Brazil in fact presented the criticisms of the companies mentioned. The report also asked what the criteria for defining the fees charged to partner restaurants and delivery companies are and how they work.

UberEats said that the answer would be the responsibility of the Brazilian Association of Mobility and Technology (Amobitec), which brings together nine applications in the sector.

Check the full note sent by Amobitec:

“Companies associated with Amobitec are open to dialogue and work to help partner drivers and deliverymen in generating gains, including carrying out reviews and making adjustments in several cities across the country.

Regarding delivery values, Amobitec member companies have their own policies related to the topic, however, in general terms, the value of each race takes into account a series of factors, such as the total distance, the time required for displacements, and the demand for deliveries at a specific time and place.

Among the measures adopted by the companies to help partners reduce expenses are agreements with gas stations networks that offer discounts on the refueling of vehicles, as well as partnerships with companies to offer special prices on parts, accessories and maintenance.”

* João Francisco and Luiz Fernando are fictitious names, because the motorcycle courier and the businessman interviewed by the report did not want to identify themselves.

Edition: Anelize Moreira

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