China Daily European Weekly - - Life - Dagong dagong, Cour­tesy of The World of Chi­nese, www.the­world­ofchi­

Stress lev­els are high and com­pe­ti­tion is fierce be­tween ri­val couri­ers in food de­liv­ery busi­ness

per­cent earn up to 6,000 yuan, and a tiny mi­nor­ity make up­ward of 8,000 yuan.

Feng­niao of­fers its em­ploy­ees in­surance, de­duct­ing the cost from their wages at 2 yuan per de­liv­ery day. The couri­ers gen­er­ally leave their chil­dren to be raised and ed­u­cated in their home prov­inces.

“It’s a job you can do with­out a lot of skills,” says a rider sur­named Lin, who is in his 30s. “Of all these kinds of jobs, your only other op­tion is to

( ) ” — re­fer­ring to low-skilled man­ual la­bor, fac­tory work or ser­vice jobs. “When you

you may work more than 8 hours a day and you have to take or­ders from some­one. When you de­liver food, you get to be on the move, and work when you take an or­der; you earn more if you take more, less if you take less.”

Still, Lin plans to change jobs. “The com­pany is not do­ing well this year,” he says. “I think it’s time for me to move to a dif­fer­ent field. ... They don’t cover food or lodg­ing, so af­ter you pay your rent and feed your­self, there’s not much left.”

Last year, not for the first time, both and Meituan were crit­i­cized by the China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion for al­low­ing un­li­censed restau­rants to use their plat­form to sell meals, prompt­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by food in­spec­tors in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Chengdu, fol­lowed by an apol­ogy from

Both Lin the driver and Liu the an­a­lyst be­lieve there are la­bor trou­bles brew­ing, as a sec­tor swells by pro­mo­tions and mar­ket­ing ad­just­ments are made.

“It’s a de­mand cre­ated by sub­si­dies,” says Liu. “But since the end of last year, the mar­ket is con­tract­ing; it’s sta­bi­liz­ing it­self, so now there’s in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion for or­ders.”

Driver Lin has seen it first­hand: “Last year, ev­ery­body was switch­ing over to food de­liv­ery from other jobs. Our com­pany was do­ing very well, giv­ing all these dis­counts,” he says, tak­ing a break out­side.

“Take a look at the streets there — ev­ery­one’s a food de­liv­ery guy. It’s got­ten to the point now there are more de­liv­ery­men than or­ders be­ing placed.”

If what they say is true, merg­ers, re­fi­nanc­ing and takeovers are likely to oc­cur, along with pos­si­ble lay­offs. Yet the in­dus­try is sure to con­tinue its ex­pan­sion. But many of these em­ploy­ees, con­stantly striv­ing to im­prove their speed, may well be left be­hind.


Most couri­ers that de­liver food in China’s big cities are young men. They can earn as much as 6,000 yuan per month.

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