The gig economy may have given us easy taxi rides and onion rings delivered to our door at 2 AM, but it hasn’t been so good to its workers. Short-term and zero-hour contracts—as well as the inability to form a union—mean that anyone driving an Uber or delivering takeaways for Deliveroo is missing out on fundamental employment rights. Not so happy about those 2 AM onion rings anymore, are you!!!??
Unfortunately, it can be hard to challenge the large companies dishing out the short-term contracts (if they’re giving out contracts at all). Indeed, Deliveroo drivers yesterday lost their latest battle against the company, after trying to overturn a ruling that defined them as “self-employed.”
According to the BBC, the High Court has ruled that Deliveroo drivers are not entitled to “collective bargaining,” upholding a ruling in November 2017 by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) saying that the drivers were self-employed. This means that workers are not entitled to minimum wage, holiday leave, or pension contributions.
The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB)—an organisation that fights for the rights of low-paid employees—challenged the ruling from 2017, arguing that it was a breach of human rights to say the Deliveroo drivers were not entitled to minimum wage. The organisation has said it will appeal against yesterday’s decision.
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB general secretary said in a press statement shortly after the ruling: “Today's judgement is a terrible one, not just in terms of what it means for low paid Deliveroo riders, but also in terms of understanding the European Convention on Human Rights.”
“Deliveroo riders should be entitled to basic worker rights as well as to the ability to be represented by trade unions to negotiate pay and terms and conditions,” he continued. “The IWGB will appeal this decision and continue to fight for these rights until we are victorious.”
Deliveroo, however, claims that the ruling is a victory for their workers who want “flexibility.” In a press release sent to MUNCHIES, Dan Warne, UK managing director of Deliveroo, said: “This is a victory for riders who have consistently told us the flexibility to choose when and where they work, which comes with self-employment, is their number one reason for riding with Deliveroo. We will continue to seek to offer riders more security and make the case that Government should end the trade-off in Britain between flexibility and security.”
Yesterday’s High Court ruling follows protests earlier this year by food delivery workers outside Uber’s HQ in Central London. UberEats and Deliveroo drivers told MUNCHIES at the time that the companies must “take responsibility for their workforce.” UberEats drivers were particularly angry after the minimum spend on food orders had been lowered from £4.26 to £3.50, resulting in less money per delivery for drivers.
Isn’t late capitalism just a barrel of laughs? [Chuckles nervously] [Cycles off for minimum wage shift]