Deliveroo riders in Brighton are threatening to protest and strike if the company doesn’t pay them more and stop over-hiring.
The multinational online food delivery company is part of the gig economy, claiming it does not directly employ its riders, which exempts it from paying the minimum wage and other basic benefits such as rest breaks, sick and holiday pay.
However, following a ruling last year that Uber drivers are employees not contractors, the Independent Workers Union (IWGB) is seeking a similar ruling for Deliveroo riders.
And in the meantime, it is calling on the company to improve the pay per delivery from £4 to £5 and stop over-hiring, which has led to riders sometimes waiting up to four hours for a job, IWGB claims.
Brighton Deliveroo rider Guy said: “Now as a result of over-recruitment it is becoming relatively common to work on average for £4 an hour, especially during the day from Monday to Thursday, when you only get one delivery an hour.
“Even if we solve the issues of over-recruitment we still need to get a better pay so that we manage to earn the minimum wage when all costs are included.
“I’ve known some riders to be sitting in the zone centre with no work for three to four hours. If we can act together we can force them to listen to our demands and we know that the IWGB has been successful with this in the past.”
Brighton riders joined the IWGB over the weekend following a meeting with union reps who have already started representing riders in London.
The IWGB already is fighting to secure union recognition, a collective bargaining agreement for Deliveroo’s riders in Camden, London, and the recognition of the riders as “workers” rather than “independent contractors” legal proceedings it initiated in November, 2016, a month after the Uber ruling, which is being appealed.
The IWGB has achieved a series of victories for workers in the so-called “gig-economy”, most recently securing employment rights, including holiday pay and minimum wage for a bicycle courier employed by CitySprint, in a landmark ruling.
The union is also backing cases against courier firms including Addison Lee, eCourier, Excel, with hearings expected from March through the summer.
IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch Chair Mags Dewhurst said: “It’s really heart-warming to see Deliveroo riders up and down the country coming together to unionize and fight against unfair work practices. They are fighting against the darkest forces of modern employment work practices.
“The Deliveroo riders are not asking for anything unreasonable. They deserve the right to the national minimum wage, a fair contract and paid annual leave. These riders have the full support of the IWGB.”
However, a Deliveroo spokesman said that most of its riders are very happy working with the company.
He said: “Deliveroo has a strong relationship with riders and we strongly condemn the misleading claims and threats made by the IWGB, who misrepresent the views of the vast majority of riders who work with Deliveroo, who it says earn on average well over the minimum wage.
“Hundreds of riders currently work with us in Brighton, with hundreds more applying to work with us every single week – the vast majority of whom want the flexibility that comes with self-employment.
“The IWGB does not seem to understand how Deliveroo works and does not understand what motivates the vast majority of riders who work with us. Indeed riders with Deliveroo in Brighton earn on average well over the minimum wage.
“We will continue to engage with riders directly to ensure that as the company grows, our riders continue to benefit from that growth.”
The current minimum wage is £7.20 an hour for over-25s, £6.95 for 21 to 25-year-olds and £5.55 for 18 to 20-year-olds. Under-18s are entitled to just £4 an hour.