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Deliveroo given union ultimatum over pay after 'rider influx'

Gig economy: Deliveroo faces union ultimatum – pay riders more and freeze recruitment or face mass action

Deliveroo faces "mass action" by delivery drivers in Brighton if it fails to increase rider pay by 5pm today, a couriers’ union has warned.

In the latest battle for "gig economy" workers’ rights, the Independent Workers Union’s Courier Branch (IWGB) has demanded a per job rate of £5, up from £4, amid claims workers can spend up to four hours waiting in freezing conditions, unpaid, for delivery jobs, earning as little as £4 per hour.

Following a pay freeze demand from IWGB Deliveroo told riders last week it was not hiring more staff in the area, but the company says this is unrelated to the IWGB deadline, which was set two weeks ago. The union says a sudden influx in new Deliveroo drivers, combined with the £4 drop fee, has left existing workers with too little work to meet the minimum wage at times. Deliveroo refutes claims as baseless and says on average Brighton riders earn above the living wage.

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IWGB Logistics Branch Chair, Mags Dewhurst, told Deliveroo riders became members following a recruitment drive, which they claim has dramatically reduced pay. “It’s really heart-warming to see Deliveroo riders up and down the country coming together to unionize and fight against unfair work practices. They are fighting against the darkest forces of modern employment work practices,” she said.

“The Deliveroo riders are not asking for anything unreasonable. They deserve the right to the national minimum wage, a fair contract and paid annual leave. These riders have the full support of the IWGB.”

The Union has a pending tribunal claim over what it calls Deliveroo’s ‘bogus’ classification of its drivers as self-employed contractors.

If Deliveroo fails to agree to increase the drop rate, the IWGB says it will embark on a “campaign of mass action, including protests, social media campaigns and possibly strikes”.

Brighton Deliveroo rider, Guy, believes the company taking on extra riders in the area caused his pay to fall. He says: “Now as a result of over-recruitment it is becoming relatively common to work on average for 4 pounds an hour, especially during the day from Monday to Thursday, when you only get one delivery an hour. Even if we solve the issues of over-recruitment we still need to get a better pay so that we manage to earn the minimum wage when all costs are included.”

“I’ve known some riders to be sitting in the zone centre with no work for three to four hours,” he said. “If we can act together we can force them to listen to our demands and we know that the IWGB has been successful with this in the past.”

The IWGB is also fighting to secure union recognition for its Camden riders which, if successful, will allow the Union to bargain on behalf of riders, and will entitle riders to holiday pay, and a minimum wage, among other things. Collective bargaining laws in the UK do not apply to independent contractors, but to those classed as workers and employees.

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In October an employment tribunal ruled against Uber, which claimed its drivers were self-employed contractors. Following the ruling Uber drivers have the right to be classed as workers.

The ruling said: “The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common 'platform' is to our mind faintly ridiculous.”

In a letter to riders Deliveroo said it recruited new riders to meet demand at peak times – evenings and weekends. It said it currently has the right number of riders in Brighton, and is currently not looking to recruit more. It said the IWGB’s calls for a recruitment freeze demonstrates a lack of understanding of how the business works with riders.

A Deliveroo spokesperson told ““Deliveroo has a strong relationship with riders and we strongly condemn the misleading claims and threats made by the IWGB, who misrepresent the views of the vast majority of riders who work with Deliveroo.”

Deliveroo also calls IWGB claims riders are paid £4 per hour baseless.

“Hundreds of riders currently work with us in Brighton earning on average well above the National Living Wage. We will continue to engage with riders directly to ensure that as the company grows, our riders continue to benefit from that growth.”

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