Delivering Justice: How campaigners are uniting for rights at Deliveroo

The IWGB union are fighting a decision that denies Deliveroo riders basic employment rights - and they need your support.

The union for Deliveroo couriers has is hoping to take its fight to the High Court, after the union raised almost £10,000 in one day for a legal battle.

A ruling in February said riders could not be considered ‘workers’ – but a crowdfunded campaign to ‘deliver justice’ has shown the ‘strength of feeling against companies that sidestep employment law’, according to the riders’ union.

The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union has been campaigning for couriers at the company – as well as at private cab firms including Uber – to be classed as workers for some time.

Next month the union will put its case again to an oral hearing before the High Court which, if successful, will allow the union to appeal an earlier decision denying Deliveroo couriers employment rights.

Deliveroo riders are currently classed as ‘independent contractors’ – meaning they are denied guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay.

In February, the Central Arbitration Committee – which has authority over requests for union recognition – said that Deliveroo couriers are not workers, and therefore cannot formally bargain with the company through a union. 

The CAC ruling that riders are in fact ‘contractors’ stemmed from a clause within Deliveroo’s rider contract, which technically grants Deliveroo couriers the right to find a substitute to do their deliveries.

Yet there is no evidence of this being usable in practice – the Deliveroo courier would have to ensure that the substitute is legally entitled to work in the UK, that the contracting of the substitute is in compliance with the Modern Slavery Act, and that the substitute has no unspent criminal convictions, among other requirements.

The union are now hitting back, going through the High Court to seek a re-think. 

In just a day the IWGB has raised nearly £10,000 to help cover costs in its ongoing employment rights case.

On 12 June, the IWGB will have an oral hearing before the High Court which it hopes will overturn a decision preventing the union from seeking a judicial review of a ruling denying Deliveroo couriers employment rights.

The IWGB hopes to raise a total of £50,000 to cover existing and potential legal costs the union faces. The union was saddled with legal costs after having its initial application for judicial review rejected.

IWGB Vice President Mags Dewhurst said: 

“This unprecedented outpouring of generosity shows most people see right through Deliveroo’s bogus claims of offering flexibility and progress, when in reality their model is based on tearing up our most basic employment protections.

“Deliveroo might have millions in venture-capital cash, but we have the backing of the people and this gives us confidence that we will prevail.”

If the union is successful in the 12 June hearing, it will be able to challenge the loophole used by Deliveroo to deny its couriers employment rights.

The IWGB will say that the CAC erred in the facts and as a matter of law when it ruled that the substitution clause in Deliveroo’s contract meant the couriers were in fact independent contractors.

The IWGB is being represented by barristers John Hendy QC and Katherine Newton, and solicitors Harrison Grant.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

The crowdfunder can be found here.

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