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Delivery drivers boycott Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats calling for higher pay

Delivery drivers for Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat in towns across the North East of England are boycotting orders to demand higher pay.

Delivery drivers for Just Eat and oursourcing company Stuart, stage a picket outside McDonald's in Darlington with the support of Darlington Trades Union Congress. Image: IWGB

Delivery drivers for Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have refused to accept any orders from the food delivery apps all day as they demand better pay in the face of the rising cost of living. 

Couriers in Sheffield, Middlesbrough and three towns across the north of England are boycotting all orders and staging pickets outside branches of McDonald’s and Greggs’ HQ in Newcastle. 

Drivers employed by courier company Stuart – which is sub-contracted by Just Eat, have been engaged in strike action against the company for over 130 days after they say it cut the base rate of courier pay by 24 per cent in December. 

For over four months delivery drivers in Sheffield and towns including Chesterfield and Hartlepool, have switched off their Just Eat app during peak hours, and staged pickets outside restaurants including KFC, McDonald’s and Greggs.

Uber Eats and Deliveroo are also facing calls to improve the pay given to riders, who say that with rising inflation their pay is falling. 

Deliveroo recently signed a landmark agreement with union GMB, the first of its kind for gig economy workers, which will see the food delivery company formally recognise GMB members’ rights to collective bargaining on pay, and consultation rights on health and safety. The deal designates couriers as “self-employed”, meaning they will be exempt from the rights of “workers” including paid holiday leave, sick pay and pensions.

A Deliveroo spokesperson said the agreement gives “self-employed riders flexibility, guaranteed earnings, representation and benefits.”

One Darlington-based driver who spoke to The Big Issue anonymously, said the price a customer pays for a takeaway had increased, but this has not translated into a pay rise for delivery drivers like him. At the same time, his gas and electricity bill has increased from £116 to £203 per month. 

“We all work as self-employed, but that means we need to earn enough money so that we can afford to take days off when we are sick,” he added. 

The driver, who would usually be taking deliveries for Uber Eats and Just Eat but on Tuesday joined the picket line outside a McDonald’s, said that though the companies made huge profits over the pandemic, they are not being passed to the couriers.

President of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) organising the industrial action Alex Marshall said “we are witnessing an almost sector-wide fall in delivery app courier pay.” 

“With the rising cost of living, couriers – who are forced to pay fuel and vehicle costs out of their own wages – are having to cut back on meals to keep their vehicles running. Meanwhile, delivery apps, and the companies they deliver for, generate millions of pounds for their top executives. 

Until we see courier pay increase in line with the cost of living, these companies will continue to face strikes and direct action across the UK.”

The strike comes days after police clashed with protesters in Hackney, east London after police  arrested a man who they say was wanted for immigration offences while conducting an operation “targeting e-scooters and moped-enabled crime” at a street used by delivery drivers in between jobs.

Activists have said the confrontation highlighted the vulnerability of food delivery drivers, many of whom are migrant workers earning low-pay. 

A Just Eat spokesperson said: “We are keen to maintain an open dialogue on issues that are important to couriers. We are working with our third party delivery partner and are having ongoing discussions with them on this matter.”

An Uber Eats spokesperson said: “We offer a flexible way for couriers to earn by using the app when and where they choose. We know that the vast majority of couriers are satisfied with their experience on the app, however we regularly engage with couriers to look at how we can improve their experience.”

A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “Tens of thousands of riders choose to work with Deliveroo in the UK because our way of working is designed around what riders tell us matters to them most – the chance to determine their own work patterns and work when and where they want. Riders always earn more than the national minimum wage while working with us and in most cases riders earn significantly more than this.”

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