Employment

Food delivery drivers are taking part in the UK's 'longest ever gig economy strike'

McDonald’s branches in Sheffield have been forced to stop taking orders due to the walkout over delivery fee payments.

Food delivery drivers are on their second week of protests in Sheffield city centre, despite snowy conditions. Image: IWGB Couriers Sheffield

Food delivery couriers, including those who deliver for JustEat, are in their second week of strike action in Sheffield – now said to be the longest gig economy walkout in UK history. 

Drivers employed by courier company Stuart – which is sub-contracted by JustEat – are taking action over a reported cut to delivery fee payments. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) says Stuart cut the fee per delivery by 25 per cent on most orders.

Members of the union are now demanding an increase, plus mileage and paid waiting times after 10 minutes.

Six McDonald’s branches in Sheffield have been picketed by drivers as orders pile up inside. Some have had to stop taking orders altogether.

The strikes have spread to neighbouring Chesterfield as well as Sunderland, with strikes in Huddersfield due to start in the coming days. 

Gig economy researcher Callum Cant has labelled the action “remarkable,” and the longest strike “in the history of the UK gig economy.” 

“In 2018, we saw a national strike of food delivery workers – but this is the first time that this kind of collective action has continued for more than a week,” he told The Big Issue.

“Across the economy, workers are feeling the squeeze of higher inflation. As some of the lowest paid workers in our economy, platform workers are often on the front line of this trend. This strike is an example of the action they can take to challenge this pay squeeze.”

Stuart made £12million profit during the height of the pandemic.

Article continues below

Current vacancies...

Search jobs

A number of Labour MPs including John McDonnell, Ian Byrne, Clive Lewis and Jon Cruddas have thrown their weight behind the strike action. 

So too has local MP for Sheffield Hallam Olivia Blake, who said: “These workers have my full support. Savage pay cuts and broken promises are no way to thank couriers who worked throughout the pandemic to help deliver food to the people of Sheffield.

“Both Stuart and JustEat need to step up and take responsibility for making sure their workers have what every worker deserves: a living wage, job security and a fair deal.” 

JustEat and Stuart have been contacted for comment. 

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?
Work

FOSO is the new FOMO: Why are we so afraid to switch off and be out of office?

Is 'edgy upstart' BrewDog now 'boring and ubiquitous' after years of scandal? Experts weigh in
BrewDog
Business

Is 'edgy upstart' BrewDog now 'boring and ubiquitous' after years of scandal? Experts weigh in

Train strikes: Rail passengers weigh in as Aslef drivers 'grind services to a halt'
train strikes

Train strikes: Rail passengers weigh in as Aslef drivers 'grind services to a halt'

Labour's workers' rights plan slammed as 'unrecognisable' and a 'betrayal' by Unite union boss
Keir Starmer Labour Levelling Up
Workers' rights

Labour's workers' rights plan slammed as 'unrecognisable' and a 'betrayal' by Unite union boss

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know