On Thursday couriers who served as key workers for Ocado through the height of the pandemic will demonstrate at the Ocado Zoom depot in Acton from 1pm to protest poverty pay and poor treatment by the ‘ethical food company’. Workers spoke out over pay cuts of up to 50 percent when Ocado transferred them to work via the Ryde App. In what is essentially a fire and rehire process they are now being forced to accept even worse conditions or lose their jobs, all with no direct communication from Ocado.
Members of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have launched their #ShameOnOcado campaign which has been backed by Black Lives Matter UK, Ealing Council and a number of MPs, including MPs Rupa Huq, Aspana Begum, Ian Byrne, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Barry Gardiner MP – who is campaigning against this exploitative practice of fire and rehire. More than 500 people have taken action by writing to Ocado and over £1000 has been donated to the workers’ strike fund.
Kwadwo Kyerewaa, Black Lives Matter UK, said: “White overpaid bosses cannot continue to underpay their darker skinned key workers. BLMUK in solidarity with IWGB demand that Ocado stop poverty pay and give their key workers pay and conditions that they can raise their families on.”
Despite Ocado’s promise to in-house all workers by the 4 October, no contracts have been offered. Workers have voted to ballot for strike action over key demands including an end to pay cuts, union recognition, fair process and workplace health and safety including safe load limits. CEO Tim Steiner, a major Conservative Party donor, was paid £60 million in 2019.
Ahmad Fahim, Ocado Zoom courier, said: “Our hard work has helped make Ocado Zoom a successful business, building it up from nothing to thousands of orders a day. We worked all through lockdown even though I fall in a high risk category. I have colleagues who got ill and lost their loved ones. The public has applauded us for our efforts but Ocado has taken every opportunity to slash our pay and force many of us out of work. They ignore our emails and refuse to engage with us. That’s why we’re demonstrating to make Ocado listen to our demands for decent pay and fair conditions, for ourselves and our families.”