Delivery Hero Turkey Workers Seek Precedent-Setting Unionization

Hundreds of employees at the Turkish unit of German food delivery company Delivery Hero SE are working to get unionized, a campaign that could have implications for other online delivery operations.

“We may formally apply to be registered to represent the workers as early as next week,” Ali Riza Kucukosmanoglu, chairman of Turkey’s Nakliyat-Is labor organization, said by phone on Wednesday. The union is close to organizing at least 40% of Yemeksepeti.com’s 6,000 workers, a number that’s growing as the coronavirus pandemic boosts demand for its services, he said.

Most of the company’s employees work at food and grocery delivery and warehouses, and they’re seeking better pay and working conditions, Kucukosmanoglu said.

Yemeksepeti.com dominates the online delivery market in Turkey. A successful unionization could create a precedent for the online delivery industry, he said.

Labor organizations in other countries are also seeing an opportunity for further gains during the pandemic. Powerful unions and activist regulators in Europe have come down on online retail giant Amazon.com, which for years has mostly prevented organized labor from penetrating its employee ranks.

Yemeksepeti.com’s chief executive officer, Nevzat Aydin, declined to comment on the unionization push inside the company. Delivery Hero didn’t respond to an email requesting comment.

Berlin-based Delivery Hero acquired Yemeksepeti.com for $589 million in 2015. The company calls Turkey its most mature food delivery market in the Middle East and North Africa, though it doesn’t provide a country-by-country breakdown in its financial reports.

Delivery Hero is the world’s largest online food order and delivery firm outside China, and operates in about 50 markets, according to its website. The company employs about 27,000 workers.

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