Takeaway food delivery drivers plan to strike on Valentine’s Day to demand better pay and working conditions.
The action, which involves four food apps including Deliveroo and Uber Eats, is expected to involve up to 3,000 drivers and passengers on Wednesday between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. GMT.
One participating cyclist told the BBC his pay was “absolutely ridiculous”.
Deliveroo said its delivery workers “always earn at least the National Living Wage”.
The action, organized by a group of couriers, many of them Brazilian, aims to draw attention to what has been described as the poor working and pay conditions many couriers face when delivering food and groceries in cities across the UK.
“Sacrificing a few hours for our rights is essential, instead of continuing to work endlessly for insufficient pay,” the Delivery Job UK group said on its Instagram page.
“Our demand is simple: we want fair compensation for the work we do. We are tired of being exploited and risking our lives every day… It is time for our voices to be heard.”
As well as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, Just Eat and Stuart.com will also be affected, as couriers who normally compete across multiple apps for scheduling deliveries will refuse to take orders.
The action will extend beyond the UK.
In the United States, drivers for Uber, Lyft and food delivery companies are also expected to suspend work for two hours on Wednesday, according to Justice for App Workers, which says it represents more than 130,000 app drivers.
Organizers said members would not make any trips to and from the airport in 10 major cities, including Chicago and Miami.
Delivery Job UK claimed its delivery drivers were braving “cold, rain and absurd distances” for deliveries paying “ridiculous values”, ranging from £2.80 to £3.15.
A spokesperson for the group told the BBC that Deliveroo strikers wanted an increase to a minimum of £5. Other companies use different pricing structures.
“They (Deliveroo) have cut their fees. There is no incentive anymore. On a Friday night you could make £100 in 4-5 hours, now that’s not the case,” the spokesperson said. word.
He also said that couriers were exposed to “a lot of violence in the streets”, especially in the evening.
Joe, a courier in London since 2018 who plans to strike on Wednesday, said the job was “incredibly isolating” and attracted many migrant workers who were unable to challenge conditions and were “forced to do so” .
“The conditions are shocking,” he told the BBC. “The pricing of fees is aggressive. It’s hard to overstate how sophisticated these algorithms have become. The fees are absolutely ridiculous.”
Callum Cant, who has written about the gig economy and is a lecturer at the University of Essex, said changes to fees meant couriers had seen their wages fall by 40% in real terms since 2018.
“With a minimum rate of £2.80, most may only do three orders an hour, and then have to subtract their costs as well. Some earn £7 an hour, which is barely livable in London” , did he declare.
Although delivery drivers are not officially unionized, the GMB has reached an agreement with Deliveroo which the union says is the first of its kind in the food delivery sector.
It includes access to training courses and a pay floor for fees, negotiated each April.
In a statement, Deliveroo said it offers its riders independent and flexible work, as well as protections.
“Drivers always earn at least the National Living Wage, plus vehicle costs, for the period they work with us, although the vast majority earn much more than this,” it says.
“Riders are also automatically insured for free, covering them in the event of an accident or injury whilst on the job and benefit from income protection if they are ill and unable to work.”
Uber Eats told the BBC it offers couriers a “flexible way” to earn money using its app “when and where they want”.
“We know the vast majority of couriers are happy with their experience on the app, and we regularly speak with couriers to see how we can improve their experience.”
Just Eat said it offers “a very competitive base rate for independent couriers and also offers them regular incentives to help them maximize their income”.
“We continue to regularly review our salary structure and welcome any feedback from couriers,” the company added.
Stuart.com said it was also “committed to providing competitive revenue opportunities for messaging partners.”
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