In France the wildcat strike is certainly the most popular method of protest against Deliveroo, although it is not always the most effective. Riders typically make lists of varying demands, and the company normally reacts by addressing only one or two of the several problems listed — and this is exactly what they have done in Marseille.
In April there was a reduction in the minimum guarantees which was the main cause of our strike action. Our strike must have been successful as the company met the riders as a group with a representative from a union present and they haven’t altered our guarantees this month. Obviously they have calculated that to be the issue most important to the riders.
What the company have done here though is reorganise the city’s zones into one single zone covering the whole city, rather than the previous two, which itself was previously three. This is the opposite of what was requested by the riders, who polled on social media that they preferred the idea of more zones to less.
The other major demand of the riders was the possibility of more work so that riders can improve hourly wages. In the weeks following the strike action, the company reduced the number of riders on per shift by one and then continued to reduce staffing further after that. This obviously has had the effect of raising the number of orders available per rider and now we find ourselves solidly busy between half seven and ten o’clock on most evenings, raising the average hourly wage from below €7 per hour to around €10 or more (this led to much excitement amongst Roo’s at having “won” minimum wage).
All of this has meant that the general attitude to work amongst the riders has improved, but should we be content yet? People feel less trodden on and better-respected but the fact remains that, even though Deliveroo have made some concession in the face of our organising this work is crap and the company is still reluctant to guarantee workers a wage if there are no orders.
Riders continued to work on International Workers’ Day whilst a lot of the city enjoyed the day off, even though improved wages or better payment systems have not yet been achieved. Further to that our struggles were unrecognised by the major unions marching through the city centre. It looks as though the business model of local/regional management is effective in absorbing the blow of wildcat strikes.
Small city-wide or even zone-wide issues are generally resolved to a level that placates riders within one pay cheque cycle, but the outcomes are never near good enough leaving us without even a living wage. Transnational action is required to successfully fight a company like Deliveroo. Over from Marseilles, we suggest a European general disconnection* as a possible example of transnational action — so let’s go get organising!
This article first appeared in the Plan C-backed Rebel Roo newsletter