Caught between the boss and the customer

They drive at top speed, whizzing between cars, racing to beat the red light, scrambling onto the sidewalk to beat traffic congestion and cutting in front of pedestrians. And they’re working for us. Couriers and fast-food deliverers, of whom there are 25,000 in Athens alone, and who are largely blamed for the chaos on the streets, as well as traffic offenses and accidents. «But we are the last wheel on the carriage,» they say. As Caballeros, the union of external workers, writes in its manifesto: «It’s not out of ‘youthful madness’ that we break the rules of the road, but because we have a boss at one end and a customer at the other shouting ‘Hurry up!’ We speed in every direction, from any departure point to any destination, 24 hours a day, in any weather conditions and traffic conditions. We are the thousands of motorcyclists that nobody respects on the road and that everyone wants outside their door.» Angelos delivers fast food in Athens: «Our motto is ‘the faster the better,’ both for the business and for us, because that way we get more tips. And we live on our tips, because we get a low wage (I get 30 euros a day), which is why most of us have second jobs.» As he explained to Kathimerini, they themselves are the most at danger from their work. «We regularly have one accident one a month.» Many use their own bikes at work so that employers are not responsible for accidents. «Nobody tells you to go through a red light; on the contrary, but the pressure is unbearable.»