On Saturday 23 February, while working as a Deliveroo meal courier, I came across the scene of an appalling crash between one of my colleagues and a car, a few minutes after it had happened. The Deliveroo courier′s motorbike looked pretty smashed up, and the rider was lying at least five metres further down the road, possibly with broken legs and a head injury. There were many people helping, and the ambulance arrived soon, so I didn′t stick around long and don′t know the eventual outcome. I think everyone probably lived.
The crash really brought home how vulnerable we, as couriers, can be . It brought back my anger with Deliveroo, even stronger. I can′t comment on whose, if anyone′s, ″fault″ the crash was. However, I know that Deliveroo′s pay structure, and low pay in general, pushes us towards dangerous riding. Deliveroo bosses earn much more than us, with stable incomes, and don′t face many of the risks that they daily push us into. Many other risks are transferred to us besides the risk of road accidents. I don’t think that motorcyclist is going to be riding for weeks or longer — and his scooter looked likely written off.
Under pressure, Deliveroo offer free rider insurance, which is good, and should partially compensate the courier for injuries and pay lost. However, the amount they offer is seriously insufficient, and the rider will be not be paid by Deliveroo for the time they are out of action, losing money, and possibly feeling forced to start working again before medically advisable. The very high cost of a new or seriously repaired scooter adds an additional burden to someone recovering from a horrific ordeal.
The struggle for better pay from Deliveroo continues, locally and nationally, following the five strikes we′ve had in Bristol in recent months, and some in other cities. In Bristol we′re doing a serious organising drive, aiming to recruit large numbers to the IWGB union, and better ″map″ the situation with couriers in Bristol. We′re planning another large meeting in a couple of weeks, bringing more couriers into planning the next series of strikes. In the meantime we will be discussing other protests, producing more bulletins, meeting the mayor about motorcycle parking bays, and more.
Nationally, couriers are getting more organised in many places, with strikes planned sooner in some. The IWGB union is supporting and in dialogue with couriers in many of these places, and taking steps to increase national co-ordination.
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