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Deliveroo Workers Win in Britain

By Lamiat Sabin

Striking couriers for online food delivery company Deliveroo won a “major victory” in getting bosses to promise that they will not be forced to work under a piece-rate system, their union announced on August 17, 2016.

Workers of the restaurant food delivery firm will not be made to sign a new contract that would downgrade wages from 7 ($9.13) per-hour plus 1 ($1.30) for each delivery, to just 3.75 ($4.89) per drop-off.

Those who already signed the contract under duress will not be bound by it, according to the couriers and logistics branch of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union.

A trial of the new system will be carried out in some London areas, in which up to 280 couriers work. Those who do not agree will have to move to another delivery zone.

But a new concession made on August 16—after a week-long unofficial strike—means they can choose areas and be guaranteed the same hours as before. The trial started the next day and would go on until September 14.

Deliveroo claims workers would be paid more during busier periods under the new plans. Workers fear for their incomes, as they say they often wait hours for a delivery under the original system. Couriers are still campaigning for the London living wage of 9.40 ($12.26) an hour.

Bosses also agreed that no couriers will be “victimized” after a number of them claimed they had been threatened with job losses or had their app—which tells them where to pick up and drop off—blocked.

Management used other “dirty tricks” to coerce workers—registered as “independent contractors” with few rights—to agree to new terms, IWGB CLB (Couriers and Logistics Branch) chairperson Mags Dewhurst told the Morning Star.

She said that the branch received “constant complaints” from workers about similar “arbitrary managerial procedures” such as “dumping” couriers in unfavorable areas as “punishment.”

Dewhurst added: “Strikers called the company’s bluff. Deliveroo was being opportunistic in trying to push through the piece rate. They probably never had intentions of sacking people.

“Couriers have exposed their bullying nature, dirty tricks and how people fall foul of it in this unregulated sector. This is a major victory. The trial of the new contract is genuinely more like a trial because drivers will now have to opt into it rather than opt out.”

Green Left Weekly, August 22, 2016

https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/62501