Following the recent Uber victory, where a tribunal upheld the driver’s argument that they were workers, not contractors, a group of cycle couriers working for Deliveroo are now seeking union recognition and workers’ rights.
Cycle riders claim they only receive £3.75 per delivery, with no hourly fee and have to sit for up to an hour waiting without earning a penny as ‘independent contractors’.
IWGB general secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said that the Union has approached Deliveroo for recognition for the union to represent the couriers. Whereas UK Collective bargaining laws do not apply to independent contractors, the Uber decision could see the drivers regarded as workers, with greater rights. Indeed, the Uber ruling said:
“The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our mind faintly ridiculous.”
“If Deliveroo ignores or rejects our request, then we will take them to tribunal and ask for a declaration that Deliveroo must engage in collective bargaining with us.
“To do this the tribunal will also have to decide that the Deliveroo drivers are workers and not independent contractors, which means they will also be entitled to paid holiday, minimum wage, and all the other rights associated with this employment status.”
The IWGB action could offer a faster, more economical way of achieving worker status for the 8,000 Deliveroo riders than a full employment tribunal.
Dr Moyer-Lee said:
“Gig economy employers like Uber and Deliveroo claim their workers don’t work for them but are rather independent contractors running their own businesses,” he added.
“We say they do work for them and as such should be entitled to paid holidays, minimum wage, and collective bargaining rights.”
Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis MP said:
“If Deliveroo and Uber want to bring forward these new technological platforms, then they have to ask themselves is their business model sustainable if they have to exploit their workers to be able to make themselves viable.”
In a statement, Deliveroo told the BBC that it was
“committed to providing great opportunities for UK riders, with the flexible work riders value, and a payment model which is fair, rewarding and better matches riders’ time with customers’ orders.”
The Department for Business said it had launched a review of working practices in the gig economy. The inquiry, led by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) will look at job security, pay and workers’ rights.
A spokesman said:
“The government is committed to building an economy that works for all. We want to ensure our employment rules are up to date to reflect new ways of working.”
Julia Kermode, CEO of The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA), whose members provide accountancy and umbrella services to 120,000 freelancers and contractors said:
“It is no surprise to hear that Deliveroo drivers have been spurred on by the Uber verdict to pursue their rights. Employment status is complex and what is important is that employers need to carefully consider how they engage their workforce whether they are genuinely employed or self-employed. Employers should treat their workforces properly so that exploitation cannot happen and it is unacceptable that people should earn below the minimum wage – employers should not shirk their responsibilities to provide basic workers rights. The wages/commission structure does seem to result in very low pay – if the Deliveroo couriers and others like them received a fair income there would be no need for such a case to be brought.
“The Government has recently appointed Matthew Taylor to review non-standard employment practices and has also launched an inquiry into the future world of work, all of which is a move in the right direction.”
Last week Julia Kermode met with Jane Ellison MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and from discussions it became very clear that Government is committed to stamping out false self-employment and ensuring that everyone who should have employment rights and protections does receive them in practice.
Julia Kermode added:
“Whilst there is commitment to supporting the important role of the flexible workforce, I am concerned that the current trend in Government policy appears to be a desire for professional contracting to become so cumbersome that it is eradicated in favour of permanent employment. This is certainly borne out by the IR35 changes that will be going ahead for the public sector in the coming months. It is frustrating that current media attention seems to imply that there is something wrong with self-employment, and that businesses should only employ permanent staff. It must be remembered that the vast majority of self-employed professionals choose to operate in this way and do not want or expect employment rights, nor do they feel exploited.”
“While a decision by Deliveroo to engage willingly in collective bargaining about important worker rights would seem to be the fairest way forward, especially in light of the company’s commitment to provide great opportunities for its riders, only time will tell.
“An appeal by Uber against the Employment Tribunal’s recent decision that its drivers are workers rather than contractors entitling them to rights, such as national minimum wage and paid holiday, is highly likely. My sense is that Deliveroo may want to await the outcome of that appeal before agreeing to trade union recognition for its riders.
“At the same time, a refusal to agree to trade union recognition is likely to land Deliveroo in the Employment Tribunal alongside Uber. The importance of the Uber case cannot be overstated.”