A former Alibaba delivery driver has set himself on fire in protest over unpaid wages in China, suffering third degree burns over 80 per cent of his body.
Liu Jin, 45, had worked for Alibaba’s food delivery platform Ele.me throughout the country’s coronavirus lockdowns, but had recently signed up to work with rival delivery group Meituan, according to the Financial Times.
Upon trying to resign, Lui experienced a pay dispute with Ele.me’s local partner in charge of drivers and decided to set himself on fire in protest.
Videos appeared on social media of Lui setting himself on fire next to a Meituan delivery scooter, before people rushed to him with fire extinguishers to put him out.
After the flames were extinguished, Lui said “I want my blood and sweat money back”.
Just like in the UK, demand for delivery drivers has skyrocketed during lockdown in China, while the dominance of large tech companies like Alibaba has also grown exponentially.
This combination has enabled delivery platforms to push workers to take on more jobs for less pay, according to analysts.
Both Ele.me and Meituan were forced to tweak their algorithms last September after an expose revealed that drivers faced heavy fines for not delivering goods on time.
Assistant professor of sociology at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Jenny Chan told the Financial Times: “Sometimes, food delivery couriers are compelled to do multi-apping to deliver for both Ele.me and Meituan to see if they’d get more than sticking with one platform.
“Individual couriers are pitted against each other,” she added.
Ele.me said: “We are saddened by the tragic event. The situation is currently under investigation and we are unable to comment at this stage.”