IWGB

Couriers: half a step forward

Food delivery firm Just Eat is set to bow to pressure and start employing couriers as employees rather than as spuriously self-employed “independent contractors”. The company plans to start employing 1,000 workers “directly” via a delivery arm (Scoober) which will be operated by the recruitment agency Randstad. This means that these workers will all receive some measure of sick pay, holiday pay and other employment rights which most UK food delivery workers are currently denied. Just Eat’s move is part of a Europe-wide move by the firm towards regularising the employment of its delivery...

Shutting down all the apps

On Wednesday 25 November the majority of the takeaway food delivery workforce in Sheffield struck. The strike affected all of the big apps — Stuart, Deliveroo and UberEats — and involved over 100 drivers. It effectively shut down the delivery service across the city. On the drivers’ WhatsApp, pictures flooded in of restaurant order boards overflowing with uncollected orders. The workers were united around three key demands: living wage after expenses; a fair process around discipline, with hearings and natural justice for drivers accused of infractions; and a hiring freeze, to stop the big...

Sheffield couriers strike

On Wednesday 25 November, food couriers in Sheffield will carry out an all-day, all-out strike. Their demands, aimed at all food platforms, are for a living wage plus costs, a fair process on terminations from platforms, and a hiring freeze. In recent weeks, many couriers across Uber, Stuart and Deliveroo, have found themselves being terminated with no right of appeal. In many of these cases the reason for the termination is computer error. For example, Uber requires riders to submit selfies during a shift in order to prove that they have not rented out their account to a third party. But Uber...

Court win for "gig" workers

The IWGB union has won a legal battle over the rights of gig-economy workers, and couriers especially, during the pandemic. A judgment issued on 13 November means that workers in the “gig economy” are entitled to the same EU-derived health and safety rights as employees. Key rights are: • To be provided with Personal Protective Equipment by the business they are working for and • The right to stop work in response to serious and imminent danger. The UK Government must now urgently take steps to ensure that workers have the same protection as employees. Meanwhile, in Sheffield, couriers working...

Students organise towards January

As lockdown began, the Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan reassured students, contrary to other advice coming from the government (!), that universities should carry on with in-person teaching. Meanwhile many students have voted with their feet, opting to return to parental homes to study online. Can students win what they need to rescue their academic year from university management incompetence? On Tuesday 17 November, as part of a week of action, the National Union of Students (NUS) plans a series of online “Town Hall” meetings with local MPs, to publicise their...

Workplace and union reports: Royal Academy, Unison election, Sheffield couriers

Royal Academy jobs fight In the week ending 30 October, staff at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly held five days of demonstrations outside the building, calling for the RA to reconsider their proposal to make more than a hundred staff redundant. Since the start of the pandemic, the Prospect union has seen RA staff join at speed and reach over 150 members by the start of the demos, between 30% and 40% of total staff, numbers that mirror the scale of the proposed redundancies. The daily demonstrations, typically hosting between ten and thirty people, were joyful and replete with RA staff...

Couriers hit Wagamama again

Deliveroo workers in the IWGB union in Sheffield struck on 14-15 October against Wagamama over pay and terminations. From 4pm to 10pm on those two days, deliveries were boycotted at Wagamama, which is a major and exclusive client of the Deliveroo food delivery company. Couriers are fighting against a sustained drop in fees and a threatened mass-hiring drive by Deliveroo; and demanding basic due process be applied to the way that the app handles complaints and terminations. Presently drivers can find themselves dismissed arbitrarily from the app following a single anonymous complaint, with no...

Unions must stay active

In light of the developing surge in coronavirus cases, a Covid-19 subcommittee of the IWGB Union’s Executive Committee has issued a ruling stating that all face-to-face union activities – picketing, meetings, recruitment, leafleting – must be suspended, even if they were previously being carried out in a covid-distanced manner. This move is similar to a decision taken by the USDAW shop-workers’ union earlier in the year. In both cases, we think it is mistaken. Unions are an essential service. Like all other essential serivces, they must find ways of working with the increased risk (as all...

Deliveroo workers strike again

Deliveroo workers in the IWGB union in Sheffield have voted to take two days of industrial action on 14-15 October, as they continue to push Deliveroo nationally on pay and unfair sackings. Following several weeks of boycotts and organising in Sheffield, the union is continuing to grow. And now, workers from nearby towns have reached out to the Sheffield union branch. A group of drivers in Barnsley have been in contact and report that they are now discussing action on parking fines and low pay. In neighbouring Penistone, food couriers have taken inspiration from the fight in Sheffield, and are...

Food couriers organise nationwide

In York and Sheffield, food delivery couriers are continuing an ongoing campaign of boycotts, strikes and demonstrations. Their aim is to civilise a wild-west industry that relies on Victorian-style super-exploitation, painted up as the modern “gig economy”. Deliveroo, UberEats and other operators have used the coronavirus crisis as cover to slash pay and over-recruit – all the while noisily lauding their exploited workforce as “heroes”. In Sheffield, much attention has been drawn to the plight of workers who fall foul of Deliveroo’s seemingly-arbitrary sacking policy. One union member has...

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