Glovo Kills: The True Price of a Pizza
  • Back when Glovo was a small company that no one had heard of in a few major Spanish cities, one of its first riders, Isaac Cuende, was hit by a car during a delivery. According to his account of the incident, the first question the company asked him was “are you carrying an order?” Fortunately, Cuende only suffered a broken arm. But when he returned to work from his unpaid time off, he had lost “Excellence Points” and could only work a few hours a week, effectively punishing him for his on-the-job accident. Cuende is now suing the company.

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On May 25th, at around 11:30 pm, an unnamed bike rider working with Glovo was run over by a truck in downtown Barcelona, and died instantly. But today, things are different. Glovo is now an international brand that has just finished a $169 million funding round and is battling its own labor force in the courts over its working conditions. So today, when a rider is killed in the service of on-demand fast-food, Glovo has made a point of publicly sending its regrets to the family and mentioned repeatedly that its private insurance policy will soon be “activated”.

Glovo has apologized for a “terrible accident,” but failed to acknowledge that it was an accident that would never have occurred under different circumstances. Glovo pushes its riders to work as fast as possible, and the only way to make money in this game is to ride dangerously. Glovo sends its riders out during the most dangerous times of the day to be biking, late at night. Glovo gives its workers no training about safety practices, in fact it gives no training whatsoever. Glovo feeds off the most desperate in our society and pushes them to their limit. It can come as no surprise that this results in a fatal road accident. Realistically, it should be surprising that it has not happened until now. Glovo’s “apology” is not an apology if it does not take responsibility for creating the conditions in which this accident could happen, through intentional and specific characteristics of their on-demand application that incentive or even necessitate dangerous behavior.

Moreover, it cannot be an apology if Glovo does not address these issues and make changes to their application. But they will not do so, because these are necessary elements of their business model. They cannot do so. They would lose their competitive advantage.

In the contract I signed with Glovo, clause 3.3 states that “The Independent Professional accepts and assumes all risk associated with the task or micro-job...[Glovo] is not responsible for any damages, personal or material, that the Independent Professional may suffer during the realization of the deliveries, and as such they should take out a civil liability insurance policy of their own.”

Glovo or its insurer may pay the family of this rider now that the public has an eye on the company. But the contract is what counts. And the contract says fuck you.

This death is the price of doing business in the new on-demand economy. This death is the price of your pizza.