Signed, sealed, delivered: Gig economy workers get union recognition

What started as a small action over unpaid holiday ends in historic victory for couriters at an NHS provider.

For those losing sleep over the future of workers’ rights in a robot-overlords-ruled dystopia, this might bring a glimmer of hope.

Couriers with National Health Service (NHS) provider The Doctor’s Laboratory were granted union recognition today after an extended fight with the employer.

The Central Arbitration Committee ruled in favour of the couriers, who were hired as independent contractors by the pathology services group.

Much like independent contractors at other gig-economy employers, such as Deliveroo and Uber, The Doctor’s Laboratory couriers were until recently not given the right to a minimum wage, holiday pay, or the ability to collective bargain.

The couriers, who have been represented by the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union, were granted the more secure status of “worker” back in June 2017. Some of the campaigning couriers were also given full employee rights last month. And now they have been granted full union recognition.

The Doctor’s Laboratory courier Alex Marshall celebrated the victory saying:

“We were forced to unionise since every time we went to management with a concern we were being ignored.

“It is quite reassuring that we will now be taken more seriously and have a seat at the table to negotiate what we are rightly entitled to.”

This is not the first time the Independent Workers of Great Britain union has represented gig economy workers campaigning for stronger employment rights.

Last year, a courier at Addison Lee was given full worker status following a campaign by the union. The IWGB also took up cases against large courier companies CitySprint, Excel and eCourier in the past few years.

“Contrary to the Government’s empty platitudes about giving workers a stronger voice, the best way for gig economy workers to have a voice at work is to establish collective bargaining arrangements between their union and their employer,” said IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee.

With just over 100 couriers working for The Doctor’s Laboratory, the step might seem small for these workers’ rights – but it sets an important precedent for workers in all types of gig-economy jobs.

Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. She can be found on Twitter here

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

One Response to “Signed, sealed, delivered: Gig economy workers get union recognition”

  1. 'Gig economy' union secures landmark victory over NHS courier firm | Left Foot Forward

    […] development follows the IWGB winning the right to collectively bargain on behalf of TDL couriers last year, the first time in UK history that this had been done with a so-called “gig economy” […]

Comments are closed.