Deliveroo riders across the UK are striking for better working conditions and pay as the company launches on the Stock Exchange with underwhelming results.
The strike, supported by the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB), includes hundreds of drivers from London, York, Sheffield, Reading and Wolverhampton protesting for fair pay, protection for workers and basic workers’ rights, such as sick and holiday pay.
Publicity over Deliveroo riders’ poor working conditions has affected the company’s recent entrance into the stock market. On its London stock market debut last week, share values plummeted by 14 percent by close of trading. This was attributed to concerns over working conditions after an investigation from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that riders can earn as little as £2 an hour.
Today, the first day that ordinary investors could buy and sell Deliveroo shares on the stock market, workers are hoping strike action continues to affect the company's public valuation.
Alex Marshall, President of IWGB, said: “Deliveroo presents a false choice between flexibility and basic rights but the Uber ruling showed that here as well as abroad, workers can have both.”
“That is the least they deserve and what the public expects for our frontline workers,” he added. “They said it couldn’t be done but by getting organised and speaking out, riders have triggered a domino effect which already slashed £3 billion from Deliveroo’s valuation and that should give pause to any corporation that thinks precarious workers can be endlessly exploited without consequence. It’s time for Deliveroo to do the right thing, recognise its riders as workers and treat them like human beings.”
Gig economy workers have recently won the right to minimum wage, holiday and sick pay in other companies, after a ruling against Uber found that drivers were employees of the company, not self-employed.
Ethan Bradley, a Deliveroo rider from York, says the Initial Public Offering (IPO) – the process by which the company goes public on the stock market – is an opportunity to shine a light on the working conditions.
“It's the IPO time for Deliveroo, and their bosses are getting multi million-pound payouts whereas we have watched our earnings decline rapidly throughout the pandemic,” he told VICE World News. “We can work whole days, making about five or six [pounds] an hour, when there's stretches in the middle, with no work at all. I know riders who are having to work like 14 hour days at the moment to make less than 100 pounds, which is well below minimum wage.”
“I think this IPO is a real chance to highlight that disparity,” he added, “and to really be able to push now for basic rights such as minimum wage guarantee, such as the sick pay or holiday pay, or the ability to like collectively bargain within our union.”
A spokesperson from Deliveroo said: “This small, self-appointed union does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy while working with Deliveroo alongside the ability to earn over £13 an hour.”
“Only yesterday we ran a survey and 89 percent of riders said that they were happy with the company and flexibility was their priority,” they continued. “We are proud that rider satisfaction is at an all-time high and that thousands of people are applying to be Deliveroo riders each and every week. Riders are at the heart of our business and today we are beginning a new consultation with riders about how we should invest our new £50 million community fund.”