On Sunday 28 November at 12 noon, Sheffield food delivery couriers from the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are protesting outside of Sheffield Town Hall to demand that Stuart delivery cancels a planned pay cut of nearly 25%. Having previously been promised a postponement to the cuts in October 2021, couriers are set to strike from 6 December after the corporation that delivers for JustEat decided to push ahead with the cuts next month.
Stuart is slashing pay on most deliveries from £4.50 to £3.40 from 6 December 2021 as part of a new pay structure that will force couriers who already have to pay their own vehicle costs to work even harder and longer to make the same money.
Bryn Atkinson-Woodcock, Stuart courier in Sheffield, said: “With the rising cost of living, and minimum wage and national living wage rising too, we should be getting a pay rise, not a pay cut. The pay at Stuart is bad as it is. Stuart advertises pay between £15 and £20 an hour online but this is totally unrealistic. Once you take out the rising price of fuel, insurance, vehicle maintenance, and tax, we’re making far below minimum wage. I work 6 to 7 days a week, between 8 and 12 hours and it’s obliterated my savings. I’m on my third car since I started working with Stuart because I’m doing 50 miles a day and the wear and tear costs take a considerable amount of my earnings. All we’re asking for is fair pay so we can pay our costs, earn a decent living, and have the time to see our families.”
The upcoming protest and strike, backed by Sheffield Labour MP Olivia Blake, follows a protest organised by IWGB in October 2021 when the pay cuts were first proposed. At Sunday’s rally, couriers will stage a motorcade leaving from Queen Street at 11am, arriving at Sheffield Town Hall at 12 noon where speeches will be given by Olivia Blake MP, members of the council, and workers.
Parirs, Food Delivery Courier, said: “Everything has gone up in the UK, even the minimum living wage has gone up; gas and electricity has gone up; petrol and diesel have gone up. For Stuart and JustEat to drop what they’re paying us is not right at all. It’s poverty pay already. With this new pay structure we won’t be able to pay off our bills. It’s heartbreaking. They’re being sly about it: they say, “trust us” – but we cannot trust a process that offers no hope for drivers. A few years ago they were begging for drivers but now we are just being used.”
Despite undertaking high-risk key work through the pandemic, Stuart’s couriers still live on poverty pay, are denied basic worker rights such as sick pay, and are forced to cover their own vehicle and insurance costs. With rising costs of living and fuel spikes, pay cuts will push these key workers further into poverty.