On 5 January 2022 around one hundred food couriers in Bristol, riding mopeds, held a protest against violence and harassment while working. Their expensive vehicles are particularly targeted by thieves, and sometimes while the drivers are riding, which endangers them.
As three years ago, this was organised by Brazilian moped couriers, independently of the union.
As I wrote then: “Deliveroo[‘s insurance] does not cover the cost of equipment, or of money lost when unable to work because of theft or unrelated illness.
“The inaction on behalf of the police is undoubtedly in large part because the overwhelming majority of victims are Brazilian migrant workers... It is important to recognise and call out the racial, national, and class factors behind this neglect. However, the solution is neither to call for more police and stricter sentencing on the one hand, nor to advocate punitive vigilante action on the other. Fundamentally, the police serve to repress the working class and workers’ struggles, and strengthening them in the long run would harm us.
“In the current situation though, we cannot seriously organise alternatives to the police, with any genuine democratic oversight or due process. Recognising this tension, we must encourage people to have no faith in the police as an institution, and to take a critical perspective towards them... Motorbike theft does not exist in a vacuum. Many of the thieves are very young 'joy riders'... often driven by desperation, or a sense of meaningless. Wider social changes, from youth and social centres, to tackling poverty and gaining economic equality, and beyond, would help.”