In 1990, Chen Guojiang was born in rural Guizhou.
In 2004, at the age of 14, Mengzhu left home and became a migrant worker.
In 2007, at the age of 17, Chen Guojiang went to Beijing and became a “Beijing drifter”.
In 2009, at the age of 19, he began to deliver food for restaurants for full-time, and gradually accumulated some savings.
In 2013, Mengzhu started to run his own restaurant in Beijing and offer delivered meals.
In 2018, Mengzhu’s own business failed, and he was in debt. His wife divorced him.
In the second half of 2018, he started to deliver food for Ele.me, and became a crowdsourced delivery worker.
In the winter of 2018, Mengzhu had an accident during the delivery and was hospitalized for 7 days unaccompanied. He realized the importance of getting connected with other workers when lying on the hospital bed. After witnessing people being kicked out of the Wechat group for questioning the food delivery platform’s practices, he decided to establish his own Wechat group of delivery riders.
In 2019, Cheng Guojiang, together with his rider friends, established a mutual aid organization for riders in Beijing, the “Delivery Riders’ Alliance”, and began to actively help other delivery workers. He started to be known by many delivery workers as Mengzhu– the leader of the delivery riders’ alliance.
In 2019, before the 11.11 online shopping campaign, Mengzhu was detained for organizing strikes protesting against the payment reduction by Meituan and Eleme. After 26 days of detention he was released. He learnt from this experience that he had to adopt smarter ways to appeal for workers’ rights and fight against the platforms.
In March 2020, Mengzhu started posting short videos related to delivery riders’ working experience on WeChat, Weibo, Bilibili, and Kuaishou.
In September 2020, the working conditions of delivery riders received huge social attention, and Mengzhu actively spoke out and received lots of media interviews.
Till February 2021, the number of the WeChat groups of delivery workers managed by Mengzhu reached 16, reaching more than 14,000 delivery riders. His other social media accounts had also have seen a huge increase in attention.
What is the “Delivery Riders’ Alliance ” ?
The “Delivery Riders’ Alliance ” set up by Mengzhu is a mutual-aid network of the delivery riders. Any rider can join the community through joining the Wechat groups. They can share information, discuss working conditions and problems, ask for help in the groups, like many of similar online groups. Mengzhu promised to respond to all helping requests made by riders. He mobilized the riders in the network to help one another. In 2020, the Delivery Riders’ Alliance put on a mini-app on Wechat, offering varieties of aids to the delivery workers, including free legal consultation and aids, assistance with claiming insurance compensation, free or cheap accommodation for new arrivals, advancing payments. The Delivery Riders’ Alliance also organizes collective dinner monthly in Beijing to facilitate connection and communication of delivery workers.
What did Mengzhu say about delivery workers’ situation and right:
“It’s hard for delivery workers to defend their rights without their own organization. I understand that the Riders’ Alliance cannot change the system, and it is unlikely to have bargaining power against the big platforms. However, at least I can change the people and things around me”
“The delivery workers seem to have no right to make themselves heard. No one can even hear what we say; and even if we do speak out, our words will disappear into the crowd”.
“It feels like we’re not trapped in the system, but rather that we’re trapped in the (delivery) platforms’ tricks. All the rules are set by them and the delivery workers have no control at all. From the perspective of the platforms, if one person quits, countless others will come in”
“Most people don’t think of delivery riders as a real profession, but only take it a transitional job at a difficult time. All you can get from this occupation is money. There is no room for career development, and no room for income growth.”
“What human beings pursue in a lifetime is no more than freedom. We work hard, earn money desperately, and expect nothing but freedom in the end.”