Deliveroo challenged in court over right for workers to unionise

Workers say they have faced unfair terminations and precarious working conditions - and are battling for the right to bargain collectively.


The takeaway delivery company Deliveroo is being challenged in the Court of Appeal this week in a bid to establish the right to collective bargaining for couriers working for the company.

Despite being key workers who have continued working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Deliveroo couriers don’t have a say over working conditions or the opportunity for collective bargaining, including a chance to negotiate salaries, benefits or other workers’ rights.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is challenging Deliveroo in the Court of Appeal this week, bringing their case that collective bargaining is a human right.

Recent reports have shown that one third of all food delivery sector strikes and campaign actions worldwide are targeted at Deliveroo.

A huge range of concerns have been flagged up, from ‘precarious’ working conditions and safety during the pandemic to riders earning effectiely below minimum wages.

One Deliveroo Scooter rider, London-based Ian Morrison, for example, said that when his scooter was stolen, Deliveroo did nothing to help or support him. “It’s put me on edge looking for threats and then when you throw in rain, wind or snow, and all the traffic, the job becomes pretty dangerous. Most riders refuse to wear the branded jacket as it just makes you a target.”

Unfair terminations, with riders saying they were denied due process or evidence of alleged wrongdoing, have also been a cause of concern for some Deliveroo workers.

In December a cross-party group of more than 60 MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling on Deliveroo to introduce a fair terminations process.

Greg Howard, Deliveroo rider and IWGB couriers & logistics branch chair criticised a ‘slick’ PR campaign by the firm to oppose collective bargaining. He added: “The IWGB believes we have a legal and moral right to collective bargaining and that after working throughout this crisis, we deserve more from Deliveroo. We are determined to fight for those rights.”

Cristian Santabarbara, Deliveroo rider and IWGB york chair, says: “The pandemic has proven how little Deliveroo really cares about us. We literally built this company on our backs.

“[CEO] Will Shu could make £350 million from Deliveroo’s initial public offering but still can’t be bothered to ensure our basic rights or even access to restaurant toilets. It’s cowardly to treat frontline workers as disposable, especially after we’ve kept people fed and helped protect the vulnerable in these unprecedented times.”

Left Foot Forward has contacted Deliveroo for comment.

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter. 

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