Friday, 21 January, 2022

Precariousness, undocumented delivery men: Julia Bijaoui, co-founder of Frichti, defends herself

Challenges – Release revealed on June 2 that one of your subcontractors employed workers who were sometimes undocumented, and not always paid. How is it possible ?

Julia Bijaoui – To deliver our orders, we use 400 auto-entrepreneurs and subcontractors. The article highlighted the case of a person employed by one of our delivery providers. We sign contracts with them that include very specific clauses respecting the law. We control the identity of all deliverers who create their account. We have regular contact with them through our logistics points. And we carry out regular checks on the ground. But this article has shown that our system is not foolproof. It turns out that we ceased our relations with this service provider because the relations were complicated, with problems of reliability, invoicing. It was before he even knew he could hire undocumented migrants and not pay them! We fell

of the clouds by learning it. This made us very angry because we make it a golden rule to pay our service providers, self-employed persons and employees up to the day.

Considering the protests these days of undocumented migrants working for Frichti, it seems there is more than one case. How many are working for you?

In the light of this case, and in a context of Covid-19 which may have weakened controls, we have decided to strengthen our controls on auto-entrepreneurs and to ask for identity documents, and no longer just a number. by SIREN. We realized that some did not have the means to prove that they were in good standing. We are talking about a few dozen cases out of the 600 self-employed delivery people who have worked with us since January. As soon as we know that the self-employed person is no longer entitled to work, we are obliged to suspend our collaboration with him. This led to dissatisfaction among these people. But we are forced, as a law-abiding company, not to work with people who are not in good standing. This does not prevent us from being annoyed that they can no longer do it. We made ourselves available to them to provide them with help, in particular by offering certificates that their self-employed company works well with Frichti, to bring them into order.

According to Jérôme Pimot, from the Collective of autonomous deliverers of Paris (CLAP), from the start, to be competitive, Frichti relied on undocumented delivery men. How do you respond to that?

This is a blatant lie. We never did that. His whole thesis is to claim that our model is based on the exploitation of undocumented migrants: this is false.

In the book Cool Exploitation, published on May 27, the delivery man Jules Salé denounces the working conditions of the Frichti delivery men. Your reaction?

He worked 30 hours for us. He describes his point of view on this profession. I am not sure he is representative, since he has not worked for us for nine months.

There is still a subject on the working conditions of delivery people … How do you deal with it?

We have a lot of respect for the people who do this job. It is the last link in the chain, the face of our company. You can’t want to help people eat well and not ask questions about the people you work with. When we created Frichti, we naturally employed the delivery men. But the turnover was very important. The CDI did not suit them. They held this job for the short term, in transition, or in addition. They asked us for the status of auto-entrepreneur. Two and a half years ago, we therefore decided to stop the salaried position for this function. But we do not want self-entrepreneurship to be synonymous with precariousness. We went further than the law in terms of professional liability insurance, health insurance … And today, we are creating a Tremplin program, imagined long before the article in Release.

What does it consist on?

During focus groups, several delivery people told us that they would like to prepare for their future. We want to support those who wish to make this job a springboard to a more stable job, at Frichti or elsewhere. The first pillar of the program consists of offering 15 delivery people the opportunity to be mentored in the next 12 months by Frichti employees. Depending on their wishes, either they will offer them an immersion in other Frichti trades, or they will help them find training, or they will help them to make their CV, prepare for interviews. The second pillar will consist in offering these deliverers, as a priority, 30 positions which will be opened within 12 months (order preparation, cooking, logistics, customer service and even at head office), provided that their training allows them to do so.

When does this program start?

They will be able to apply online from Thursday 11 June. The support will last between one and three months, with several sessions. The first will concern five delivery people. We already have some great stories of hired delivery people. Self-entrepreneurship crystallizes a lot of tensions around employment and for all that, we have no problem creating jobs. We also have 350 employees.

How did you manage the Covid crisis?

It was intense. The first priority was to check that our 250 employees in the field, in the kitchen, logistics, and our self-employed, can work in complete safety. Then, customer demand changed dramatically. We have two types of offers: we sell meals cooked by us, mainly consumed at the workplace, and we have a supermarket part, launched two years ago, on which we sell fresh, local, healthy products. . It is this activity which took precedence over the first. We increased the number of references from 350 to nearly 1,000, forging links with new producers, whose outlets were drying up. The supermarket’s turnover tripled during the lockdown.

Can this pivot be sustainable?

We believe that the Covid is accelerating the digitization of our lives and the desire to consume less but better. These are the two fundamental pillars of Frichti. In the shorter term, we anticipate that the supermarket activity will downsize a little but remain at a higher level than before the pandemic. At the same time, the French are starting to come back to work, so our business service part is gradually starting up again.

How did you adapt to telecommuting?

At the start of the year, we launched the 2.0 canteen, which allows colleagues to place bulk orders, benefiting from free delivery and preferential rates. In response to the Covid crisis, we have developed a “canteen at home” corollary, which allows companies to support employees at home, with the same prices.

Two years ago you said to Challenges: “For us, profitability is not irreconcilable with strong growth.” Are you profitable today?

We have been paying very close attention to profitability for several months now because it is very important, at our business stage, to show that our business model is healthy. For 18 months, we have been positive in terms of operating margin: we are profitable on orders, but not in investments for the future, such as development in the regions. We have the support of our investors.

Precisely, two years ago, you were targeting Lyon and Bordeaux. Where are you?

We are present in Paris and in the inner suburbs with delivery of all our offer in 20 minutes, and throughout France on the supermarket part, with delivery before 1 p.m. for an order the day before until 5 p.m. We have chosen to diversify our offer rather than geographic diversification. But we still intend to deploy in the big cities of France, in priority in Lyon and Bordeaux.

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