In the era of the pandemic that we have lived through, delivery men have become a sector of first necessity. But their work is often synonymous with exploitation.
Although there are exceptions. Gilles Jacqmain works and has been a member for two years in a Belgian courier cooperative. He does it out of necessity, but also out of conviction.
“Although the importance of this work has become clear, it is not respected at all,” he explains. “But here in the cooperative we all have a contract, social security, stability, and we can get involved. The work tools belong to us. which in part is an election based on political conviction. “
Faced with the power of the large digital platforms, the Dyoxide de Gambettes cooperative is committed to the social and environmental economy. All deliveries are made by bicycle.
It has existed since 2015, but the arrival of the pandemic was not easy. They had to leave several workers unemployed, although thanks to the contracts it was a little less painful.
“I think this is important. The worker has had the right to unemployment when we have not been able to offer him a job, unlike most of the delivery men on bicycles who find themselves from one day to the next with nothing,” says François Bellenger, manager of the cooperative “This shows once again the need for this work to be recognized by all.”
The cooperative finally managed to adapt to the new times, looking for new clients or working with them in another way.
“We suffered a very hard first blow because we lost all deliveries to professionals. But little by little we were able to replace it with deliveries to individuals. And also some customers made a similar change at the same time,” adds Bellenger.
One such customer is craft beer producer En Stoemelings. When all the bars and restaurants closed, they were left without customers. For a moment all the machines stopped. Until they decided to sell their beer directly to individuals.
“During the first wave we were able to make up for the losses, even with some profit because people actually stayed at home. Now, with this semi-confinement, we are not able to make up for what we have lost with the bars and restaurants. We stick around. But we don’t. it is something that will work in the long term, “explains businessman Samuel Languy.
And no one knows how long the long term will last. A real challenge for small companies that struggle to survive, favoring the local economy. A fashionable term, but one that must be translated into facts.