Deliveroo shames itself again amid work strife

The food delivery firm, which has run into some serious grassroots union organising in recent years, is trying divide and rule tactics against striking couriers – while also pulling a fast one on pay, workers. say

Both the IWW and IWGB unions, which have been strongly confronting Deliveroo over its treatment of delivery drivers and cyclists, have steamed in over attacks on working rights and pay in the last couple of weeks.

The IWW has been clashing with the company in a dispute at several of its in-house Editions kitchens in London, Leeds and Nottingham since July 3rd after motorbike drivers were blocked from pickups in London, while cyclists were cut off in Leeds and Nottingham.

Deliveroo’s reasoning in each case was that deliveries in the area were “more efficient” with specific forms of transport, leading it to change its priority booking systems which dramatically reduced hours for large numbers of staff with just a week’s notice.

Last weekend the IWW paralysed the Deliveroo Editions kitchen in Swiss Cottage, London for two days straight and on Friday drivers joined their mainly cyclist colleagues from the IWGB in Nottingham and IWW in Leeds shutting down their respective Editions.

Reporting from the Leeds picket line the IWW said in a statement:

The profit-driven reasoning behind Deliveroo’s decision is that cyclists are less ‘efficient’ than cars and scooters. This is a complete insult to cyclists who have worked tirelessly all year round facing dangerous traffic, icy roads, vicious storms and summer heat waves to build this company up to what it has become today. It is also a complete insult to the general public who now more than ever, demand that our companies and governments clean the air of our cities and directly combat climate change. While Leeds City Council puts forward plans to pedestrianise Leeds city centre, Deliveroo attempts to choke the city with more vehicles and more greenhouse gas emissions. This is the profit-before-people logic of Deliveroo and the so called ‘gig economy’.

The mood on the picket was of happiness and solidarity! The police turned up briefly, after realising we had no intention of causing a nuisance or blockading the street, they left swiftly. Shame on Deliveroo for attempting to use West Yorkshire Police to intimidate workers , and shame on Deliveroo for not only damaging our city environment, but also wasting the already stretched resources of an underfunded police force.

The union has made four key demands during the dispute, calling on Deliveroo to:

  • Immediately suspend changes to the priority booking system.
  • Immediately amend all booking time changes that were made to individual riders.
  • Ensure that riders that would have previously received weekend peak hours are reassigned all peak shifts so as to not allow their statistics to drop in the coming weeks.
  • Introduce a non variable distance based payment system.

On Saturday however the company’s London arm started trying to undermine the solidarity of the strike by sending orders to cyclists with the intention of creating a conflict between them and drivers who have been banned from the kitchen due to their organising with the IWW. The union reports that:

Once this tactic failed, three police cars appeared with the intention of removing us from the pavement. However, we managed to stay in front of the kitchen until Deliveroo closed it completely.

This past weekend we managed to hurt the pockets of the company, while resisting the imposed poverty of Deliveroo. There are many kitchens around London and closing one for two evenings will not be enough to force them to accept our demands. What we have done is set an example for the rest of the city.

If you are a Deliveroo or UberEats driver working in London, or are interested in volunteering for the campaign, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Work conditions can change, but only when we work together.

If you are a driver and would like to join the union, please go here.

For further information and press enquiries please contact London IWW Deputy Secretary Merlin Baker-Whitelaw at [email protected]

Meanwhile on the pay rates …

IWGB meanwhile was also taking Deliveroo to task over cuts which they say will, on top of the removal of priority hours, cut into the incomes of many staff. In a note the union highlighted company claims:

We’re investing more in medium and long deliveries … we’ll redistribute a small part of the fees that we pay towards the very short or very long distances, which you are rarely offered right now. We’re excited to be able to pay you more on the vast majority of orders.

And responded: “First you block cyclists from getting access to hours and now you tell them their fees are being cut and have removed all minimum fee info from your website.”

They also noted a statement that “we’re committed to offering riders over £10 per hour” saying it amounted to “Top weaselling: down from £12 last year. Why not guarantee it? How many hours have riders wasted waiting in restaurants and outside for orders? They’re not going to continue to subsidise your billion-pound company.”


Pic: IWW