Activism

‘We need proper pay’: Deliveroo riders flood UK streets in rights strike

Riders gathered in UK cities in a strike against Deliveroo to boost pay and bolster workers’ rights

Hundreds of riders joined in strike action across the UK. Cian Ginty/Flickr

Delivery drivers have flooded the streets of UK cities as they took part in a strike action against Deliveroo over pay and conditions.

Riders on bicycles headed off around the English capital with moped riders beeping horns and revving engines in tow as they made the case to the delivery firm to recognise them as self-employed dependent contractors as well as offering sick pay and other basic rights.

IWGB had planned action in Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Reading and York as well as London but Greg Howard, chair of IWGB’s Couriers and Logistics Branch, insisted others had joined in across England.

“We’re seeing organic action across the country that we haven’t organised. We’ve seen stuff in Aylesbury and in other cities as well. It’s been contagious today,” said Howard.

Labour MP and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbot shared her “solidarity” with the striking workers on Twitter.

“Some earn less than minimum wage, so they’re demanding better pay, rights & safety,” she wrote. “Deliveroo riders are workers and should have full employment rights #Rights4Riders !”

The strike came as Deliveroo continued its flotation on the London Stock Exchange. The firm opened up to small-time retail investors on Wednesday a week after concerns over workers’ rights turned off major investors during the firm’s initial public offering and slashed 30 per cent of its value.

Rider Rich Mason, 32, said the falling stock shows the time is now to take a stand for workers, as he did in London.

“It’s a really important time for the problems that we’re facing – the money, the insecurity and the lack of sick pay and protections have been around for years,” said the Camden-based Deliveroo rider.

“All the riders out there realise we are never going to get more attention than we have got right now. All eyes are on us and the message is the same as it has been for years: we need proper pay. We are coming out of this pandemic where we have worked so hard so hopefully today has highlighted that.”

As well as improving pay, riders went on strike to demand greater safety measures to report harassment or abuse received on the job, a transparent termination process, and to be classed as dependent contractors.

Deliveroo responded to the strike organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) by stating that the action only amounted to a small proportion of its 50,000 UK riders. 

A Deliveroo spokesperson told The Big Issue: “The IWGB does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy while working with Deliveroo alongside the ability to earn over £13 an hour. 

“We are proud that rider satisfaction is at an all-time high and that thousands of people are applying to be Deliveroo riders each and every week. Riders are at the heart of our business and we are beginning a new consultation with riders about how we should invest our new £50 million community fund.”

But Mason, who has worked for Deliveroo for four years around other work, insisted that flexibility is not a substitute for the security of workers’ rights.

“I love the job but not all the riders are in the privileged position I’m in” he said, adding: “They are there because it is the work that they can get.”

Howard added: “I think we have a shot at highlighting the issues and bringing them into the public domain and making them more aware of the struggles of these workers.”

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