Gig economy bosses may be about to take a mighty beating

The IWGB has been allowed to take forward its case that Deliveroo riders have the right to formal representation through their union.

A High Court Judge has overturned a previous court decision – and granted permission a gig economy union to take on food courier firm Deliveroo. 

Justice Simler over-ruled a previous Central Arbitration Committee ruling on Friday, and said the Independent Workers of Great Britain can proceed with its campaign for collective bargaining – trade union representation – at Deliveroo.

A full judicial review before a High Court Judge will soon be listed, with the IWGB granted permission to take the case forward under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Article ensured the rights to collective bargaining – meaning what was previously an employment rights case has become a human rights case.

If successful, it will mean collective bargaining laws will need to be applied in a way which covers Deliveroo riders.

And that in turn will have massive ramifications for the so-called ‘gig-economy’ and human rights in the UK.

However, in a cruel twist, the High Court rejected capping the cost of the IWGB’s legal liabilities – meaning the union could be faced with Deliveroo’s legal bills in excess of £100,000.

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary said:

“This case has become not just an employment rights issue, but rather a matter of fundamental human rights.

“Deliveroo should take a serious look at itself and ask itself whether it really wants to save a bit of money at the expense of the Human Rights of the individuals who make their business a success.”

The union are celebrating this as a step forward in their campaign for fair treatment of so-called ‘gig economy’ workers:

The union has crowdfunded over £20,000 already to pay for this latest legal challenge.

Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, welcomed the news:

“This is an important and positive step towards victory for workers and trade unions across the UK.

“Companies like Deliveroo and others have built their success on an exploitative business model, denying worker’s their rights and swerving their obligations under the law.

“The next Labour government will clamp down on bogus self-employment and strengthen employment rights.”

The case has led employment experts to demand a change in the law to clear up what ‘self-employed’ actually means in today’s economy.

Simon McVicker, Director of Policy at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) commented: 

“The fact that this decisioncomes only months after the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) ruled in favour of Deliveroo emphasises the uncertainty and makes the need for a statutory definition of self-employment crystal clear.

“It is unacceptable that policymakers are relying on costly, time-consuming court cases as the first port of call in determining employment status. IPSE has long asserted that there is a fundamental lack of clarity about what does and doesn’t constitute self-employment…

“We want to see the government write into statute a positive definition of self-employment…

“Disappointingly, the government doesn’t appear to support this idea, but this case – just days after Pimlico Plumbers were defeated in the Supreme Court – demonstrates just how beneficial a positive definition would be.”

In March, couriers with National Health Service (NHS) provider The Doctor’s Laboratory were granted union recognition after an extended fight with the employer, in the first success of its kind.

The IWGB also recently won a major concession over outsourcing at University of London, and are currently taking on three private hire firms who also refuse to class their drivers as workers.

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

See also: Delivering Justice: How campaigners are uniting for rights at Deliveroo

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One Response to “Gig economy bosses may be about to take a mighty beating”

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