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Pressure Growing On Deliveroo To Guarantee Worker Rights

Delivery riders are uniting to take on big international companies and demand basic employment rights. As new jobs figures, out this morning, showed that unemployment fell slightly, there is growing pressure on Deliveroo and Uber Eats to guarantee the minimum wage, pensions, holiday and sickness pay.

Last month a court ordered Deliveroo to pay out six-figure compensation to 50 riders who were classified as self-employed, but the company refused to admit liability and make changes across the board.

With other employment tribunal cases in the pipeline riders, and the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), are determined to campaign for change so that all couriers of Deliveroo - and other delivery firms such as Hermes, Uber, Addison Lee, City Sprint, Excel and eCourier - are given basic protections.

CLASS spoke to Deliveroo rider Mohaan Biswas, and IWGB branch secretary Meg Brown, about the issues as they protested outside Deliveroo's city of London HQ. They say that couriers shouldn’t have to choose between flexibility and workers rights. Watch the video below (3 minutes).

There are one million gig economy workers in Britain. Last month, in a case that also has implications for the employment status for gig workers, a court ruled that Pimlico Plumbers wrongly classified a long time worker as ‘self-employed'. CLASS director Dr Faiza Shaheen discussed the implications of this case on Channel 4 News here.

Unions and couriers also accuse Deliveroo, and some of their competitors, of using legal loopholes to miscategorize workers as self-employed to bypass basic rights. The firm has around 15,000 riders, over half under the age of 25.

Deliveroo has been accused of penalising or even terminating rider accounts if they get involved in union activities. Reasons given for getting sacked include not working enough hours - even though they also claim their riders can pick their hours - or not travelling fast enough.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats workers are now increasingly uniting to protest against their working conditions. A common complaint is that waiting hours for jobs often means that they can earn well below the legal minimum wage in quite periods. Couriers buy all their own kit, including bikes and phones, often amounting to over £1,000, find it difficult to get insurance, and are vulnerable to robbery.

Despite being ‘self employed’ they wear the corporate uniform and delivery bag so they are also mobile adverts for the service. Riders are often involved in traffic accidents, risking their lives on busy roads, and get little or no money or support if they are injured.

Deliveroo claims it always listens to complaints from couriers and that their riders can sometimes earn well above the minimum wage. They are stalling on rights for their workers because they claim the government needs to update employment law first. Unions and riders dispute this and say the company can act now. Visit the IWGB crowd funding justice page here.