Delivering help and hope to delivery workers
Kwak Chae-eun is an 18-year-old high school student who has been hanging a bag of snacks and vitamin drinks on her doorstep for delivery workers.
“It broke my heart that several deliverymen have died from overwork due to the explosive quantity of parcels to be delivered during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kwak. “Like any of us, they must be beloved family members as well. I imagined what it would feel like if I were in their shoes. I wanted to give my thanks for receiving my packages safely.”
Thirteen delivery workers have died as demand has spiked during the pandemic. This has resulted in a slew of encouraging messages cheering on the couriers, and some people have threatened to boycott same-day delivery services.
Ahn Jin-sol, a homemaker residing in Gyeonggi, said she recently joined the movement.
“I run a blog where I write product reviews, and I am also a mom of two children, so I use a lot of parcel delivery services,” said Ahn. “After hearing the news that couriers are dying from overwork, I thought of the deliveryman who comes to my house. I prepared snacks in hopes that I will be able to provide at least a bit of help.”
Some also say they plan on cutting down on their use of same-day delivery services.
Mr. Kim, a 32-year-old office worker, said he used to be a regular user of the same-day delivery services before a change of heart.
“I have frequently used the same- and next-day delivery services without thinking much, but after seeing the news related to the delivery workers, my heart became heavy,” said Kim. “I plan on not using the service unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Seoul Volunteer Center and Bong-vengers, a volunteer organization, have been carrying out a campaign for supporting the parcel delivery workers by using social media. Participants have been uploading on their social media photos of their message boards made with recycled paper hung up on their apartment doors.
Common phrases for the boards include: “I have never been able to express my gratitude, but thank you for all the hard work that you do,” “It is okay to be a little bit late. Please take care of yourself while you deliver” and “Please take the snacks I have prepared for you.”
The campaigns can be seen on platforms like Instagram, where posts with messages with hashtags in support of the delivery workers are on the rise. Lee Jun-hee, 27, was the director behind the social media campaign.
“Couriers have sent me text messages thanking me for the social media campaign,” Lee said. “It gave me a sense of fulfillment to know that our small efforts resulted in actual moral support for the couriers.”
Amid the rising public support for improvement in the labor environment for delivery workers, packaging and delivery companies are starting to establish measures to address overwork. Hanjin announced on Oct. 26 that it will halt overnight delivery services starting Nov. 1. The company said it decided to introduce measure that will help break up the concentration of parcels on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
New personnel dedicated to sorting will also be gradually introduced from next month, in order to decrease the burden for couriers.
CJ Logistics announced that it will add 4,000 people to the workforce for the sorting of the parcels starting in November. The company said it will use flexible working hours and shorten the number of work hours overall.
“I am afraid that these measures are only temporary, since the newly hired workers are not regulars, but temporary workers,” said Lee Byoung-hoon, a sociology professor at Chung-Ang University. “A fundamental solution must be found after an inspection of the labor environment through constant communication between the couriers and the companies.”
BY KIM JI-A, JEON YOUNG-SUN [email@example.com]