What do couriers in Azerbaijan complain about?
What is the typical day in a life of a courier during the pandemic like, and what problems do they face? In order to find out the answers, JAMnews talked to Emile Gurbanov, who has been working as a courier for the last five years.
Emil has been working as a courier since 2016.
“During my early days at work, I delivered food on a bicycle, after my regular job at a cafe, where I worked up until 2020. It was hard to deliver food on the bike, and after a while I bought myself a moped and officially started working as a courier”, says Emil.
He adds that the main hardship of being a courier work is a constant presence on the roads which significantly increases the risk of getting into a major accident. Emil himself was a part of a road accident once, in 2020, and was unable to work for a little while.
Emil says that he has never had any problems with employees, but did have some issues with some customers.
“I had to prove the police that I was not a thief.”
“There are all kinds of different people, we don’t have enough time for me to tell about all of them. It is hard to work with people, especially when they are hungry, and people are especially nervous and aggressive while waiting for their food to be delivered. Sometimes they shout, and sometimes it turns out that the client entered the wrong address but still blames the courier. Working with people requires strong nerves. Only a few customers are polite. If I were to speak honestly, I’d say that most people aggressive. They look down on the couriers and do not treat them well”, Emil admits.
One time Emil had to prove that he was not a thief.
“We are always outside, even in winter, so one time I was wearing a mask in order to keep myself warm and the customer thought that a thief is knocking on his door, so he called the police. I then had to prove that I was just a courier. That is probably my most unpleasant experience at work”.
14-hour working day
Emil says that courier’s working hours are flexible, Some only work for 2-3 hours while others work for 14 hours every day. Couriers can work for as long as they like, but their salaries depend on the duration of their working day:
“The peak hour for us is lunch break. Sometimes at this time of day, you can earn 15 manats [$ 8.82]. But it is impossible to earn a lot during hot days. People go for a walk, eat out, and there is no demand for food delivery. But for us, cold days are when you can earn good money. Everyone stays at home and orders food. However, on cold days it is more difficult to ride a motorcycle, and the roads are often slippery. Most of the accidents happen to us in the winter. Only experienced couriers work on snowy days, but if we do, we can earn up to 150 manats [$ 88.2] a day”.
Traffic is the biggest issue for couriers in Azerbaijan
Emil says that the roads are the biggest issue for couriers in Azerbaijan.
“We do not have a motorcycle culture yet. Drivers deliberately push them off the road, sometimes they do not notice them at all and create a risky situation on the road”, Emil notes.
Emil explains that there are currently three types of delivery services operating in Azerbaijan – bus, taxi and courier delivery services:
“They all dislike each other. We have problems in parking lots all the time. They do not recognize motorcyclists as equals and ask us to leave the motorcycle somewhere on the side.
Due to the fact that mopeds do not require state registration, those who want to work as a courier buy them, but due to lack of experience often get into accidents. They move on the red light, do not pay attention to the movement on the crossroads, and drive dangerously”.
Courier rating problems
“When the order is delayed, the rating of a courier drops and it becomes difficult to get new orders. If two couriers are waiting for a new order, they give it to someone whose rating is higher.
One of the biggest problems is the cooling of food. If even food is not returned, the rating of the restaurant or the courier is still lowered and customers write complaints”, says Emil.
Despite a large number of couriers in Azerbaijan, they still do not have a trade union or other professional association. In other words, couriers are left to solve their problems on their own. If the place of work is official, they can appeal to the courts, but if they are working without an official employment contract, all they can hope for is the conscience of the employer and the client.