Episode 54 (03/2022)

Welcome to #54, the March 2022 episode of BAD News: Angry Voices From Around The World. This is the monthly, English-language podcast by the A-Radio Network of anarchist and anti-authoritarian radios, podcasts and stations.

This month:

  1. A-Radio Berlin shares part of an interview with members of the Gorillas Workers Collective, which is organizing at the app-driven food delivery system around Berlin, Germany, about employment, data collection, precarity and labor organizing;
  2. Then, you’ll hear updates about anarchist prisoners, hunger strikes and releasees in Greece from Free Social Radio 1431 AM out of Thessaloniki;
  3. Following this, you’ll hear perspectives from a queer anarchist in Kyiv from 4 days after the Russian invasion began conducted by A-Radio Vienna in Austria;
  4. Finally, you’ll hear comrades at Črna Luknja in Ljublana, Slovenia, with an anarcho-syndicalist in Belgrade, Serbia about the role of NATO in the war in Ukraine, the need for revolution against all governments involved.

You can learn more about the network, the participants, past episodes of BAD News and how to get your project involved at A-Radio-Network.org

Length: 47:56

You can directly download it from archive.org here

Please send feedback and comments at: a-radio-networkATriseup./net

Below is a transcript of the A-Radio Berlin interview with GWC:

A-Radio Berlin shares parts of a recording of an info event of the Gorillas Workers collective, the GWC, in Berlin. Gorillas is a start up company that starting in 2020, making money by delivering groceries to people using bicycle riders, who are employed in very exploitative ways, in terms of the contracts, payment, lack of equipment and constant digital performance tracking. Resistance among the workers quickly emerged. One radical part of it is in form of the Gorillas Workers collective, which besides initiating a worker’s council was also involved in setting up wild cat strikes and organizing people in general. It’s can kind of be seen as a sort of case study of how worker’s can organize collectively in today’s precarious gig economies and how shady venture capital driven companies like Gorillas try to quench and stomp out this type of resistance within and beyond the limits of labor law. So, let’s listen in

// Recording

Unknown Speaker

And obviously, because you’re cycling in very heavy traffic, and you’re trying, you’re trying to be quick. Because in the back of your mind, you know, you have to be quick because they’re monitoring you. And if you’re not quick, because you have also six months of probation, they can just fire you for whatever reason.

Unknown Speaker

So basically, how it works is that we have these different warehouses around the city. And they’re kind of like a mini supermarket with like shelves, new people that work inside the warehouse. And then you have riders who are basically delivering those goods to like a certain periphery around the warehouse. And at the moment, I think we’ve got 20 ish warehouses, but it’s like expanding all the time. So every couple of months, there’s a new warehouse that’s like popping up. And then there’s Yeah, lots of different jobs like inside and then outside, just give a bit of an idea of kind of what it looks like. And kind of the concept, as I’m sure you’re aware is to deliver your groceries in under 10 minutes. So the customer orders it on their phone, and then 10 minutes later, it arrives at your door. So it’s kind of like a quick scramble to pick the items to put them in a bag, and then it’s a quick scramble on the bike to then deliver it to that address with under 10 minutes. And kind of each part of the process is kind of like monitored and timed in some ways. So they get a lot of data. And like feedback about your performance based on how quick you’re doing, either filling up the bag with items or how quick you are delivering it basically on the bike,

Unknown Speaker

why not, I think the whole supermarket thing as a front. That’s what they presented a lot in the media and everywhere. I think the main product is data nowadays are collecting everything by GPS, we’re going everywhere by bike by GPS, and they can see how many orders a rider can do until they get a signal or something like that. In the future. Most of the jobs will be the direction is that every job, a doctor, teacher, everyone that now works on a full contract with benefits where everybody should be working on an app. And this kind of data that is collected at this point on the backs of migrants can be then processed and sold to these companies that will then be in charge of precarization of these other jobs. Because when you’re in a precarious situation, you are more servile, you don’t stand up for your rights, you don’t have many rights to begin with. And I think this is a big thing that is not being mentioned nowadays that these companies are a big threat to not just as migrants, but to the people here that have good working conditions that have unions, but unions that are kind of slower and reacting. And what an outdated sort of reaction time, I was talking openly on WhatsApp groups about the problems that existed falling for them for the shit promises that the bosses were throwing around. We’re a family. If you have any complaints, just bring them over, but we’re going to deal with them blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But those are all just tactics to get people to get people to show to get the people who would be what they call troublemakers. They were starting lists and just to have people to fire at some point. So I made the mistake to to comment This Whatsapp group started by the company with my own name. So obviously I went on the list. We are not meeting at this point. We’re just all writing on WhatsApp groups. So I guess the more the least experienced of us were writing with our own names, while the other people who knew about organizing, we’re trying to reach people quietly in the background and telling them, Hey, you want to come to a meeting? Hey, let’s meet Let’s meet. And we’re all the people who are not used to meetings and organizing. We’re kind of like, yeah, no, no, it doesn’t really fit. In my free time. I just want to do fun things I don’t want to meet. So we’re kind of resistant to the idea. Eventually, we did start the meetings, and people started sharing their knowledge with us. So that was very nice. And but eventually, the company caught up. There were issues in last February, where there were strikes, because there were there was some storms in which writers were refusing to refusing to work. So they had to close it. So it made they made it seem as if it was their choice, it was the company’s choice to close it for the wellbeing of the workers. Those were the first strikes and as it happens, I was I was I just took sick leave immediately. There’s the storm started that was not even part of those. But still, they went for the people who already vocal on this group’s on the WhatsApp groups, trying to get them into meetings. And I said, I’m not coming I’m, I’m sick of my sick leave. So eventually, eventually, there was something else I posted online, and then the next day I was fired. And because the termination letter was not legally made, was not legally there was so every time you were fired. In Germany, you’re only fired when you have a paper. Everything else is not legal. So if someone goes in and tells you your fire, you’re on fire. If someone comes to you and tells you you’re fired on a fire, I didn’t know that at that point. But anyway, I asked support or people from found this article syndicalist union that probably you know, about, I didn’t know that much about. They were very supportive. And they got me in touch with a lawyer who too late days later told me that the termination was not valid, because the signature was done by the CEO. And he didn’t give another paper that gives power of signature to the to the person who actually handed me the termination letter. So because we’re already talking in meetings, by that point about starting a workers Council, we thought of initiating the process, then, like, this lawyer gave me a letter that would then cancel the termination and the termination would be done again, legally, two days later. So a way to avoid that is to work to start a workers Council process, which along with having the process and starting it, as we were intending would also offer immunity from termination to the people who started so once I started giving this paper that castle determination, we also put up the papers for the initiation on the workers Council. Nowadays, because of a change in the law. You can do it better by going to a notary and getting a paper in which you show your intent of starting work as counsel. And that also gives you immunity from termination gives you protection.

Unknown Speaker

So yeah, that was the second wave of strikes. And the third one. So the first one was in February of 2021 because of snow and yeah, not so it was it was stopped immediately because they were looking for more funding. So they immediately said, Oh, we’re a good company, we’re gonna give you time off, and they got their funding and when this tribe started, yeah, they fired a lot of people

Unknown Speaker

No, no, this time during that time it was it was only Santiago. They didn’t hire him. And they didn’t hire him back. I mean, I don’t mean to speak for Santiago but the first day he was like quite the first the first two days he was like quite like yeah, let’s fucking do this. And then towards the third day was more like maybe, maybe let’s chill. Let’s take it easy. So yeah, like of course we weren’t going to like force the point if person in question didn’t want us to first appointment so it kind of withered away but there were also still like, like energy and motivation to do something. I think the next thing was we like organized the bike tour basically like three weeks after I think and it was mildly successful there were also some like work stoppages in for warehouses the same day and then I would say there were some like sporadic also like mini strikes or like mini work stoppages during August and September up until October, which was another really intense moment, the first week of October the bear monkeys warehouse then followed by the Schoonover warehouse, and then followed by the Guizhou bloomin warehouse they all stopped work I think there might get was the one that had like work stoppage for the stop work for the longest for like four days, basically the same, same, same stuff like equipment payment, disrespectful treatment in the warehouse, and following that a lot of people were fired. My estimate is that around 7060 to 70 people were fired. The media’s estimate was it was somewhere close to 350.

Unknown Speaker

I think that’s it, like I mean, strike. People were fire, but they were firing a very strange, like, lots of them were fired by phone or, you know, illegal way and some of them were rehired. Some of them more properly fire with the letter Some days later, later. So it just create a lot of confusion and a lot of division because some people got their jobs back. Some people didn’t. Some people weren’t sure if they got it back. So there’s a lot of lack of knowledge about rights within this group of workers, the guerrillas and in general, the delivery sector. They worked in the works to just mess with people by doing illegal things around the time.

// Recording stops

For more info from and to get in contact with the GWC, you can find them on twitter @GorillasWorkers