Last week, cyclists took to Leeds City Square and protested against the mistreatment of workers by the takeaway delivery app, Deliveroo. The demo, dubbed “The Roosistance”, involved Deliveroo employees, trade union members and supporters protesting against the sacking of several local couriers when union involvement was discovered.
The company has come under scrutiny for the lack of workers’ rights it gives its cycle couriers. As couriers are deemed “self-employed”, they are unable to enjoy sick pay, holiday entitlements and other benefits regular workers should receive.
Since they announced a new pay structure last year, couriers have been finding it difficult to earn a consistent hourly rate.
“Leeds Deliveroo riders started organising in December last year when they had between 1-4 orders in a 10 hour shift and they were told that the pay system would change to £4 per delivery,” Joe Brown, an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) representative told The Gryphon. “The riders would be earning between £4 and £16 for 10 hours work.”
“In February 2017, our organising/union chat was infiltrated by management and seven riders were victimised. Two riders had their contracts terminated, and five others had their hours slashed from 50 hours to 8. This caused a big uproar amongst riders and a letter was sent to the head office in London. We complained about the unfair process of victimising union members, poor communication and the precarious nature of the job. The Leeds manager was fired with immediate effect which was a big win for Leeds, and all riders have had their contracts reinstated but our hours have not yet been fully reinstated.”
The pay structure, also known as the fee per drop system, has been heavily criticised by employees. It can range from paying couriers as little as £3.75 per drop, and includes couriers travelling to the restaurant, waiting for the food, travelling to the customer and dropping off the delivery at the door.
The Gyphon spoke with a Deliveroo courier who had been working for the service for a year and wished to remain anonymous.
“I love the job and the flexibility of it to an extent,” the courier told The Gryphon. “Communication is a factor that massively affects the job. For instance, if I want a particular time frame of the day off, there is always an issue as they end up booking the full day off. Then I have to constantly chase them up and wait for a reply, usually leaving me with the full day as an absence due to their mistakes. If we were truly “self-employed”, we would be able to log in and out as we please and just email them and do as we wish.”
“Obviously it’s great we can have unlimited days off and holiday which is really good for people who have busy lives and other commitments, but none of these holidays/absences are paid. So even if we’re injured or ill, we get no sick or holiday pay to cover bills, so we have to go without being paid.”
“We also get no insurance to cover us in accidents which as you can imagine, happens pretty frequently but luckily not consistently as we’d all be screwed. On quite periods, due to my age, I’m never on minimum wage but others over 25+ can often be sat around for minimum wage. This leads us to much concern if they bring in the fee per drop system, as we would be giving them free advertisement, carrying out their services for no hourly rate.”
The IWW have raised close to £2000 pounds through charitable donations to financially aid the affected riders, however this does not come close to the loss of earnings for each of the affected riders, some of which have children.
If you would like to donate, please visit https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/1303/the-leeds7
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