A commercial court in Buenos Aires on Wednesday ordered the "immediate" suspension and seizure of fast-food delivery services that use bicycle couriers and take orders through mobile applications, saying companies like Rappi, Glovo and Pedidos Ya must demonstrate their compliance with safety, insurance and sanitation laws.
Buenos Aires is awash with bikes and scooters delivering anything from food to car keys. There are around 5,000 people employed in the sector, while another 7,000 operate independently, the Chamber of Delivery Companies CEMMERA reports.
However, unions and rights groups have long complained of poor standards of safety, food sanitation and insurance cover for workers.
The Buenos Aires City government immediately lashed out at the decision, confirming it would appeal the ruling and attempt to remove judge Roberto Gallado from the case for alleged abuse of authority.
For its part, Rappi said the decision "puts at risk the continuity of thousands of people's income. We will appeal the decision."
"From Rappi we express our concern about this situation, which is unprecedented worldwide," the company added.
Colombian firm Rappi, Spanish firm Glovo and Argentina's Pedidos Ya are the firms directly affected by Wednesday’s ruling.
Presiding judge Roberto Gallardo determined the companies were in "clear violation of current regulations," according to his ruling published on the Buenos Aires Judiciary's official website. It added that they must "comply with the basic rules of safety."
Supporting the position of City Hall's Transport Secretariat, Glovo said in a statement: "We trust the City government will continue working toward the creation of a space of dialogue where all parties can give to get, above all the workers and the businesses which we work with".
It remains to be seen if the companies will comply with the ruling while the appeals process runs its course.
Among the specific demands of Judge Gallardo’s ruling, companies like Glovo working in the delivery sector must be listed in the Unique Motor-vehicle and Cycle Transport Registry and ensure workers "circulate wearing helmets".
Workers are also no longer able to carry items in backpacks like the ones used by the three firms in question. Instead, storage features "must be attached to the motorcycle or bicycle", the judge ruled. Finally, all drivers must have "life and accident insurance coverage" and meet sanitation requirements.
Judge Gallardo cited a report from the Buenos Aires City police which detailed up to 25 cases of delivery workers being treated in public hospitals in the City of Buenos Aires over the last month, due to traffic-related accidents while on the job. According to the report, approximately 77 percent of works use a backpack, 67 percent do not wear a helmet and 70 percent do not have health insurance.
The court asked the local government to take measures to compensate employees for income lost while the services remain suspended.