Deliveroo riders are now demanding unionisation and workers’ rights.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which is representing riders in North London, has sent a letter to Will Shu, founder of Deliveroo, requesting a ‘voluntary recognition agreement’.
This recognition will allow the union to bargain on the behalf of riders, and would require Deliveroo to negotiate worker conditions with them.
This comes after the recent tribunal win by UK Uber drivers, which defined them as ‘workers’ as opposed to self-employed individuals.
Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of IWGB, commented: “Currently Deliveroo riders are classed as ‘independent contractors’ which means they have no employment rights. This is the same category that the courier companies use and that Uber has been using. We want to get them recognised in law as being ‘workers’, just like the Uber case. This means they would obtain paid holiday, minimum wage, trade union rights, and more.”
Representing the Deliveroo riders in Camden as an “appropriate bargaining unit”, he continued: “If Deliveroo ignores or rejects our request then we can apply to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for the CAC to declare that the union should be recognised for collective bargaining.
Deliveroo set to become latest UK tech unicorn with £285m raise
“If we win the case it means that the CAC will have declared that Deliveroo guys are ‘workers’ and not ‘independent contractors’. In a similar way that two Uber guys acted as a lead/test case for the other 40,000 Uber drivers in the country. It is inconceivable that Deliveroo guys in Camden could be workers but those in Angel be independent contractors.”
Hoping to set the precedent for other workers and unions, the IWGB believes this is the first step in changing the way in which the gig economy operates.
“This case strikes at the very basis upon which the so-called ‘gig economy’ rests: the companies say these workers are all independent business people who don’t need employment rights and don’t need to unionise, we say they are workers hired by big companies and need to be treated as such,” Moyer-Lee concluded.
A legal opinion
Jonathan Chamberlain, partner at Gowling WLG’s tech team, who specialises in employment and equalities law, spoke to Tech City News.
Top Tech Stats: Developer’s ROI on education, AI at work and digital marketing
“History looks like repeating itself: 100 years ago, it was the dockers organising against casualisation. Today, it’s bike-riders.
“Their union is fighting the same battle on two fronts: it wants to secure ‘worker’ status – which brings with it holiday and sick pay and the minimum wage – either in the employment tribunals or through recognition. The Uber decision will have given them great heart as well as perhaps helping their legal case,” he said.
Chamberlain went on to highlight that the BEIS select committee has launched an inquiry into the future world of work and rights of workers, and said pressure is likely to grow on the government to provide a “stable and sustainable legal employment framework for tech and other employers to thrive.”
The IWGB is holding an open meeting for drivers supporting the campaign at the Marchmont Street Community Centre tonight.
A spokesperson for Deliveroo commented: “As Deliveroo continues to grow, we are committed to providing great opportunities for UK riders, with the flexible work riders value, and a payment model which is fair, rewarding and better matches riders’ time with our customers’ orders.
“We have been in close and regular contact with our riders throughout the trial and as you would expect we will be writing directly to our riders to inform them of the next steps as the trial comes to an end. The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and we welcome the opportunity to further engage with riders, policymakers and the unions as the sharing economy in Britain continues to grow.”