Toters Drivers Are Striking & This Is What They Told Us

Lebanon is currently facing an ongoing economic crisis, which is affecting the daily lives of citizens and businesses. The situation is also impacting delivery workers, who are staging a strike on the Toters delivery app.

A Toters delivery driver approached one of our staff as they were exiting the building’s parking and requested to meet. In addition, a handwritten note was left on the windshield of a car parked in 961’s parking requesting the same. 961’s offices are located on the 7th floor of the same building as Toters.

A few hours later, two Toters delivery drivers walked into our offices asking to sit with us to inform us of their plans and to relay their grievances.

Both spoke to us on the condition of anonymity worried about potential repercussions from Toters, as the company is allegedly “firing and replacing workers who express grievances.”

“We’re simply demanding fair wages and better working conditions” given Lebanon’s rising cost of living and “we will continue to escalate the strike unless these basic demands are met,” said one driver.

When asked who was behind the Tiktok account organizing the strike, they refused to answer.

He went on to say that most of their pay comes from the delivery fees that Toters charges customers but are barely enough to cover the costs of the trip and “we often find ourselves subsidizing the cost of delivery from our own pay.”

They expressed the decreasing amount of tips they are receiving from customers which are adding more burden on the driver. “I shouldn’t have to rely on the generosity of customers to survive as this is the responsibility of Toters” and “customers are also feeling the impact of the crisis and rising costs,” he said.

He continued: “I don’t feel animosity towards the customers, it’s not their job to pay my wage. Restaurants are also struggling to keep up with rising costs and are forced to increase their prices and pay a lot of commission to Toters.”

“We can barely afford it and this doesn’t count the increasing occurrences of wrong addresses or routes that cost us more, or when we’re forced to pay for the meals of orders where the customer refuses to pay or can’t be found,” he continued.

A restaurant that recently stopped using Toters delivery told us that they were paying “25% of the total order value to Toters.” The restaurant owner spoke to us on condition of anonymity. She told us they kept having to increase their prices and are struggling to keep up as the industry already operates with very low margins.

“I receive an order of 200,000LL and 25% is given to Toters just like that. I’m left with 150,000LL. How can I operate?” She said the final straw “was when I found out through a friend who’s also listed on Toters that some restaurants are only paying 15% commission while the bigger chains like Mcdonald’s are paying single-digit percentages. This kills small businesses trying to survive the crisis.”

The delivery drivers say their main demand is to increase the minimum delivery fee from 18,000 LL to 35,000 LL, $0.28 and $0.54 respectively on the parallel market.

When we asked about the pictures of delivery drivers we see occasionally posted outside the building’s maintenance room almost every other week, he said “those are drivers that were killed on the road while delivering for Toters.”

He said “the working conditions are terrible and we tell them but they don’t seem to care. Our drivers are regularly getting mugged at knife and gunpoint. The fleet manages just tell us not to wear Toters clothing so robbers don’t think we’re delivery carrying cash.”

“I know colleagues who were stabbed and friends who died in accidents after being hit by cars or trucks.” When asked about insurance, he explained that the coverage for accidents “is restrictive and barely applies in our favor.”

Employees at competing Gozilla and Noknok told us that they are receiving an increased number of driver applications. We tried reaching both companies for confirmation and to clarify their own pricing strategy for their drivers. Both weren’t immediately available comments.

In a tweet response to Synaps Network, who revealed details of the strike on Twitter, Toters described it as a “partial driver strike” and apologized for disruptions in deliveries. They said they are constantly updating the driver earnings in line with the fluctuating exchange rate and fuel prices.

They explained that the average driver compensation per order is more than 45,000 LL ($0.69) and can reach 150,000 LL ($2.33) for longer distances, not counting tips. They said the Toters team is working closely with the drivers to address their concerns.

At the time of writing this, the striking drivers say minimal progress is being made and a tentative agreement was made to increase the pay by 6,000 LL ($0.09) per order.

2 years ago, Toters delivery drivers protested their pay outside the Toters head offices at Moudir Building in Jal el Dib. They were met with a violent reaction by Toters’ security team as seen below: