A person on a bike delivering food (Picture: Solomon203)

Thousands of delivery drivers in London and Brighton participated in a wildcat strike over the weekend. Poor pay pushed workers for delivery apps Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat to take part in the action. The bosses of these apps try to justify poor pay and terrible conditions by saying that workers are “self-employed” and can work as little or as much as they choose. But for many workers, it’s impossible to make a liveable wage working for these companies.

A striker told the Watford Observer newspaper how workers’ pay had been plummeting for years. “Four years ago, companies would pay £4.50 for the minimum ride. But now it can be as low as £3,” they said. “Sometimes you can get offered two orders for £4.”

Convoys of workers drove through the streets of London and Brighton last Friday evening, beeping their horns. Workers also set up pickets outside several popular restaurants, including McDonald’s. There were reports of striking workers challenging workers who were continuing to make food deliveries.

Around 540 issues with deliveries were reported last Friday evening. The bosses of delivery app Deliveroo tried to whip up fear when they sent an email to owners of restaurants that use its services. The letter told restaurant owners, “If they observe loitering or anti-social behaviour in your dine-in business, we suggest you contact the police to clear individuals from the locations.”

This recent strike was reportedly organised by delivery drivers of South American origin, who shared graphics online in Spanish, Portuguese and English encouraging workers to strike. The strike came after a court ruling last November that workers at Deliveroo are “self-employed” and so don’t have the right to collective bargaining.

This case was brought to the supreme court by the IWGB independent workers’ union, which has been part of organising delivery workers for several years. Following the strike, the union issued a statement saying, “Riders are tired of long hours, low pay, no rights, dangers of the roads and harassment from police. The strike sends a clear message. This can’t continue. United, precarious workers are unstoppable.”

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