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Struggles of Delivery Workers in Brazil: Working Conditions and Collective Organization during the Pandemic

In: Journal of Labor and Society
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  • 1 Centre of Labour Studies (CESIT), University of Campinas, Cidade Universitária Zeferino Vaz—Barão Geraldo, Campinas, SP 13083–970, Brazil, l.c.abilio@gmail.com
  • | 2 Graduate Program in Communication Sciences, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (Unisinos University), Av. Unisinos 950, Cristo Rei, São Leopoldo, RS 93022–750, Brazil, rafaelgrohmann@unisinos.br
  • | 3 Department of Sociology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Av. Paulo Gama 110, Bairro Farroupilha, Porto Alegre, RS 90040–060, Brazil, henriqueweiss@hotmail.com
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Abstract

This article aims to analyze food delivery workers’ working conditions and ongoing collective organization during the pandemic in Brazil. The discussion involves historical analysis, based on empirical research carried out with delivery couriers over the past eight years in Brazil and on analysis of the delivery workers’ strikes in July of 2020. Our view is that their work is subsumed to a new type of work organization, management and control, defined here as uberization. Recent investigation shows that their working conditions are worsening during the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of reduced working hour value alongside unchangingly long workdays. These conditions have been met by platform workers’ collective organizations demanding better working conditions. Our findings indicate an ongoing political struggle involving different institutions, and the central role of communication between workers through digital platforms as the first form of organization. From the class composition framework, we understand that there is a germ for political composition involving Brazilian riders, in line with the circulation of workers’ struggles around the world, especially in Latin America.

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