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07 Apr 2021 | 10:44

UK Deliveroo workers strike over pay, conditions

(Sharecast News) - Workers at delivery firm Deliveroo have gone on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions, their union said on Wednesday. Socially distanced protests were held in cities including London, York, Sheffield, Reading and Wolverhampton, while supportive action was expected in Australia, France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain.

The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is demanding decent pay as well as improved employment rights and safety protections.

Deliveroo, whose share flopped on stock market debut last week, faced severe criticism from institutional investors over its treatment of workers.

Aviva Investors said last week that it would not invest in the shares because of the company's treatment of delivery riders. Legal & General also said it would shun the flotation, joining the likes of BMO Global, CCLA and Aberdeen Standard, all of which have been put off by workers' rights issues.

Amazon-backed Deliveroo treats its riders as self-employed contractors, meaning they are not entitled to holiday or sick pay.

The action follows recent campaigns by those in the gig economy to be classed as workers and so receive better pay and conditions. Unions won legal action recently against ride hailing firm Uber in a judgement that increased the risk to gig economy companies' business models increased.

Uber was told it was required to award its drivers basic employment rights such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. The taxi company argued its drivers were not workers but the Supreme Court rejected its claim.

Alex Marshall, president of the IWGB and a former bicycle courier, 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.

"They said it couldn't be done but by getting organised and speaking out, riders have triggered a domino effect which already slashed £3bn 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."

Greg Howard, a Deliveroo rider and IWGB official said: "I'm going on strike for my basic rights and those of all the other riders struggling to get by and support families on Deliveroo poverty pay.

"I've seen conditions decline for years and then working through lockdown I contracted Covid-19 and got very little support. After the pandemic more people than ever understand this exploitation is no way to treat anyone, let alone key workers."

Full trading in Deliveroo shares began on Wednesday.
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