At least 54 motor couriers die in one year while working in Turkey

At least 54 motor couriers have died on the job as of Nov. 11 in Turkey while facing the risk of death every day due to speed pressure from employers, mobbing, and attacks.

Cihan Başakçıoğlu / Gazete Duvar

At least 1,634 workers lost their lives in the first 10 months of 2023 in Turkey while the motorcycle couriers have become one of the most common occupations to die on job.

At least 54 couriers lost their lives while working as of Nov. 21 and more than half of them were in their 20s, according to the data of the Courier Rights Association.

At least 58 couriers has died due to speed pressure, mobbing, long working hours and attacks in 2022 alone, according to the data of The Workers' Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSİG).

In Aegean İzmir province, at least seven motor couriers died on job in 2023, three of them in October alone. The most striking of these was the murder of a courier in Karabağlar district on Sept. 19 in the middle of the street with a gun after being followed by people he had an argument with in traffic.

The fact that the number of couriers who lost their lives in İzmir last year was three also indicated the increase in deaths on job. 

Particularly recently booming online food delivery companies have established their own precarious courier system called "tradesman-courier.” According to this system, couriers who delivers more orders earns more money while they have to pay insurance premiums, fuel, maintenance, and equipment costs out of their pockets.

While the legal working hour threshold is 45 hours per week in Turkey, couriers often work 15-16 hours a day.

The foremost demands of motor courier workers have been the end of speed pressures, increased occupational health and safety measures, the abolition of long shifts that violate labour law, and the protection of couriers against attacks.

A courier who has been working in this field for three years stated that his company does not have any policy against bad weather conditions. Companies often forced couriers to work during downpours and thunderstorms despite the danger to their lives.

Another courier stated that due to the "rush hours" system, their orders have been often transported from one busy restaurant to another chain in a far location and that they have been charged a fee if the order gets cold or spilled due to the long distance.

Executives from the Courier Rights Association emphasized that couriers have been categorized as "less dangerous occupations" and expressed their demand to reclassify them under the "very dangerous occupations" status.

If the status reclassified as “very dangerous,” the professional qualification certificate become compulsory and companies are required to provide advanced driving training and protective equipment.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)