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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 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.

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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.” 

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“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.

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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. 

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