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China tech

Chinese officials press food delivery platforms on labor rights

Regulators call on Meituan, Ele.me and others to improve worker conditions

China's food delivery services have attracted severe criticism for their treatment of workers, most of whom are not covered by basic social and medical insurance.   © Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China's delivery platform companies including Meituan and Alibaba's Ele.me recently joined a meeting with government regulators on improving safety and labor rights for delivery workers.

Food delivery platforms, in the spotlight due to China's regulatory reforms, have attracted severe criticism on social media for their treatment of delivery workers, most of whom are not covered by basic social and medical insurance.

The meeting included officials from the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, according to a Saturday notice on WeChat by the Ministry of Emergency Management, which also attended.

Firms should strengthen safety and labor rights protections, and not set performance indicators which harm the health of workers, according to the meeting.

Alibaba Group, its supermarket operator Hema Xiansheng, Dada Nexus Ltd and other firms also joined the meeting and reported on their efforts to improve safety and labor rights.

Investors believe a major shift is underway in China as the government aggressively pursues reform aimed at cutting cost-of-living pressures at the expense of businesses, roiling stock markets. A set of reforms announced in July by China's market regulator pushed food delivery platforms in China to guarantee their workers with income above minimum pay, insurance and a relaxation in delivery deadlines.

Investors are worried about the rising cost of employing riders by the platforms, Reuters had previously reported.

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