For pizza guys, every delivery could be their last

Home > National > Social Affairs

print dictionary print

For pizza guys, every delivery could be their last


You casually pick up the phone to order a pizza. But that seemingly innocuous decision can produce fatal results. In fact, it puts deliverymen’s lives at stake.

As demand for fast delivery grows, many pizza chains in Korea have adopted a marketing strategy of promising pizza delivery within 30 minutes of an order. But it’s forcing deliverymen on motorbikes to speed, resulting in countless accidents.

The tragic death of a 19-year-old pizza delivery boy surnamed Kim last Sunday has once again sparked controversy, with the public pressuring pizza franchises throughout the country to drop the 30-minute promise.

The Youth Community Forum plans a three-day demonstration starting today in front of several Domino’s Pizza franchises in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, to protest the 30-minute policy.

Kim was on his motorbike, stopped at a red light at the Mullae intersection in Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul. As soon as the light turned green, Kim rushed ahead to turn left but was hit by a bus that was trying to speed through a red light. Kim died instantly.

The 30-minute delivery promise claimed another victim last December, after a 24-year-old deliveryman surnamed Choi collided with a taxi in Doksan-dong, southwestern Seoul, on his way to deliver a pizza on Dec. 12.

Both of these accidents were caused by a combination of the deliverymen’s quick starts when the traffic light turned green and the other drivers continuing through the intersection after their light had turned red.

According to the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, there were 4,951 accidents involving food delivery motorbikes between 2005 and 2009. And 26.7 percent of the accidents were for fast-food deliveries. The number of accidents has increased significantly, jumping from 585 in 2005 to 1,380 in 2009.

Ever since the December accident, several labor unions have worked together, proposing measures to the Ministry of Employment and Labor and to pizza franchises nationwide to stop such tragic accidents.

Their efforts have brought results. One of the biggest pizza chains, Pizza Hut, decided on Feb. 1 to abolish the 30-minute promise after three deliverymen died in accidents in 2009 and another, Choi, died in 2010.

“We have decided to delete the clause from the employee’s performance sheet,” said Go Jae-hun, a member of a joint-labor management conference of Pizza Hut Korea.

However, Domino’s Pizza, known for its “30 Minutes or Free” policy, is reluctant to abolish the policy despite pressure from the public and activists.

Domino’s began its 30-minute promise in 1984, serving as the backbone of Domino’s rapid growth to become the largest pizza delivery company in the United States. But as a rise in deaths involving Domino’s drivers was noted, Domino’s dropped the promise in the U.S. in 1991. The same can’t be said for Domino’s Korea.

On Feb. 8, the Youth Community Union, a union for occupational and environmental health, along with the Institution for Occupational and Environmental Health held a press conference in front of Domino’s Pizza’s headquarters in Seoul, pressuring the company to “halt the 30-minute delivery promise that makes the lives of deliverymen get cold just to keep the pizzas hot.” Domino’s said the issue was under discussion.

“It’s not the first time that fatal accidents were caused by an erroneous system of a 30-minute delivery policy, and it’s increasing year after year,” said Jo Geum-deuk, a director of the Youth Community Union.

“We can no longer ignore dangers these young laborers are getting into, who cannot help but to work under such a system to either earn a living or desperately try to save some money for high university tuition fees. Choi and Kim both worked as a delivery boy to earn college fees,” she added.

The community group will hold a Twitter “retweet” demonstration for three days at Domino’s Pizza franchises in Myeong-dong starting today. “The retweet demonstration will be held to stimulate more public interest,” said Jo.

The average hourly wage for pizza deliverymen is 5,000 won, which is relatively high compared to other part-time jobs, which pay around 4,000 won per hour. Moreover, some pizza franchises have adopted an incentive system that pays around 400 won more per delivery for fast service.

“I started working as a delivery boy as soon as the holiday began last December to earn some money to supplement my college tuition fees that my mother feels burdened over,” said Jeong Sun-pil, 19, who works at Redcap Pizza in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul. “It pays good compared to other part-time jobs so all my friends try to get this job,” he added.

Jeong’s friend, Seo Dong-gyu, 19, who started working at the same pizza franchise in December, was hospitalized after being in a minor accident. “I was speeding away through a narrow alley, then a car tried to go past me but ended up hitting my left arm,” Seo said, adding that he plans to return to work next week. “My mother’s concerned, but there’s no other job that pays better than pizza delivery service,” he said.

The Youth Community Union has passed on letters of protest to five main pizza franchises - Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Pizza Etang and Mr. Pizza - and has threatened to stage a nationwide boycott if a satisfactory response isn’t made by Feb. 22.

There are signs that people are responding to the safety concerns.

“Normally, customers who order a pizza for delivery habitually ask for fast delivery, but more people are asking for safe delivery,” said Lee Hyun-jung, a researcher at the Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health.

The Internet is also helping spread word of the push to abolish the 30-minute promise. Tens of thousands of netizens are participating in the movement through social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Three-thousand netizens have participated in a signature-gathering campaign as of yesterday, including famous writer Gong Ji-young, Democratic Labor Party Representative Hong Hee-deok and actress Kim Yeo-jin.

By Yim Seung-hye []

Related Korean Article[머니투데이]
사고 유발 30분배달제…도미노피자 `폐지`할까

잇단 피자배달원 사고에 국내 첫 도입 `도미노피자` 불똥

최근 과도한 경쟁으로 피자 배달원들의 사고가 속출하면서 국내에서 `30분 배달제`를 첫 도입한 도미노피자로 불똥이 튀고 있다. 업계에 배달 속도 경쟁을 부추겨 사고 위험을 높이고 있다는 비난 여론이 거세게 일고 있는 것.

지난해 12월 오토바이를 타고 피자를 배달하던 최모씨(24)가 택시와 충돌해 숨지는 등 배달원들의 사고 소식이 끊이지 않자 30분 배달제 폐지 논란이 시작됐다. 이어 지난 13일에도 서울 영등포구에서 P피자 체인점의 10대 배달 아르바이트생 김모군(18)이 몰던 오토바이가 버스와 충돌해 사망하는 사건이 벌어지면서 피자 업체들이 과도한 배달 경쟁을 자제해야 한다는 논의가 다시 불붙었다.

여론의 주 타깃은 도미노피자다. 물론 이번 김 군의 사고는 버스 기사의 과실이 컸고 다른 P업체 배달원의 사건이었지만, 배달 경쟁 구조를 부추긴데 대한 `책임론`이 제기되고 있는 상황이다.

도미노피자는 30분 배달 보증제인 이른바 `3082` 시스템을 1990년부터 20년째 운영하고 있다. `30분 내에 빨리(82)` 배달을 하겠다는 것으로 시간을 지키지 못할 경우 피자값을 할인해 주거나 무료로 주는 내용이다. 그러나 주문과 동시에 30분 안에 피자를 배달하지 못하면 피자 배달원들이 점주로부터 임금 삭감 등 불이익을 받을 수도 있어 `위험한 질주`를 방조하고 있다는 지적이다.

노동환경건강연구소의 한 연구원은 "대외적으로는 도미노피자만이 30분 배달제를 표방하고 있지만 여러 업체들이 내부 규정을 통해 신속한 배달을 독려하고 있는 상황"이라며 "그러면서도 업체들이 배달 노동자들의 사고를 개인 부주의로만 취급하고 있다"고 비판했다. 그는 이어 "업체 지침이 없었다면 배달사고는 사전에 충분하게 막을 수 있는 재해기 때문에 위험을 강요하는 경영 정책은 폐기돼야할 것"이라고 지적했다.

이런 상황에서 도미노피자는 집중 포화를 받는 것에 대해 억울한 표정을 지으면서도 부담을 느끼는 분위기다. 특히 30분 배달제의 `원조`격인 미국 도미노피자는 1993년 배달원 사고가 나자 이 시스템을 없앴고, 지난 1일 한국피자헛도 30분 배달제와 관련한 내부업무 지침을 삭제해 폐지 압박이 큰 상황이다.

도미노피자의 한 관계자는 "`소비자와의 약속`도 중요하기 때문에 일단 상황을 지켜보고 있다"며 "현재로선 최대한 배달원들의 안전 관리에 힘쏟고 있다"고 말했다. 그는 이어 "물론 향후 추이를 심각하게 고민하고 있고 어떻게 방향을 정할지 준비하고 있다"고 말해 조만간 30분 배달제를 중단하는 `결단`을 내릴 수 있다는 가능성을 내비쳤다.

노동환경연구소와 청년유니온 등 시민단체는 5대 피자업체들에 대해 배달노동자의 생명과 안전을 중시하겠다는 내용의 공개서한을 오는 22일까지 달라고 요구한 상태다. 이들은 "업체들이 약속을 하면 `배달노동자를 존중하는 기업`으로 알리는 데 앞장서겠지만 그렇지 않을 경우 불매 운동 등 실천에 나설 것"이라고 강조했다.

정치권에서도 논의가 불붙을 전망이다. 민주당 최영희 의원은 "고용노동부의 안이한 대책이 또 한명의 청소년을 사망으로 내몰았다"고 꼬집으며 청소년 아르바이트생에 대한 보호법을 이번 임시국회에서 처리하겠다는 계획을 밝혔다. 고객들 스스로의 자성을 촉구하는 목소리도 있다. 한 시민은 "최근 배달원들의 사고가 안타까워서 배달을 시키면서 `늦어도 되니 서두르지 말고 조심히 오라고 했다"고 말했다.
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now