These riders have tried to engage with Deliveroo over their pay and working conditions. The company’s response? “Dismissive, ignorant and on a side-note insulting.”
So says rider Cristian Lee Santabarbara, one of many in York who were striking today (14 February).
Their campaign highlights the arbitrary and one-sided relationship between those in charge of the gig economy, and the workers at the sharp end.
Deliveroo has effectively cut the wages of their workforce, thinking they had no power to fight back.
Well, that fightback has started in York – and there may be many more miles in it yet, unless Deliveroo comes to the negotiating table.
Barely make minimum wage
So what’s at the heart of this dispute? “There used to be a flat fee per job and last summer they bought in distance-based fees,” said Ethan Bradley, a rider and Open University student.
“But that means they can change the fee on a daily basis if they choose to.
“Since last summer our fee per job has gone down to the point that some days we can barely make the minimum wage.”
Cristian, a business management student at the University of York, said:
We could comfortably do three orders an hour before, and we’d get paid £4 per job so we’d make £12 an hour, a decent wage.
Now they’ve reduced it to £3.79 and we have to go further – they have expanded the distance of drops. Now we’re doing fewer jobs further away for less pay.
It’s advertised by Deliveroo that we make £12 an hour but in reality we are struggling to make £8.
A group of York Couriers came together to take their case for better working conditions and remuneration to Deliveroo.
“We composed a letter to Deliveroo voicing our concerns. It was then ignored by all the recipients apart from one, who replied with tick-box responses,” said Cristian.
Another rider, Will Bossman, said: “We want to show Deliveroo that people do want change, there’s an appetite for a different way of doing things.
“If they would open a dialogue with us that would be ideal.”
‘Fair day’s wage’
Labour councillor for Micklegate ward Jonny Crawshaw joined the riders outside York Minster. He said there has been a revolution in this type of flexible working.
“Whilst it’s very convenient for the user the worker is getting lost in a lot of this,” he told YorkMix.
“What these guys are telling me today is they feel compelled to sign on to do work at a wage which is below minimum standard.”
Unless things change, there will need to be a change in the law to protect gig economy workers, Jonny said, adding:
This is a shot across the bows. We are keen to be here supporting it to amplify their voice a little bit.
They don’t want to be withdrawing their labour. What they do want is a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.
Will said York Deliveroo customers can help by becoming “engaged with us as riders. And be aware what Deliveroo is saying may not be a fair picture of the actual situation”.
If Deliveroo doesn’t change its approach there will be more protests, said Ethan.
“Unless we see some dramatic improvements quite soon we will continue. This is a very minor implementation at the moment. It will progress.”
“We respect the right of individuals to protest, but their actions are unrepresentative of the 200 riders in York, of which the vast majority will be out delivering amazing meals to customers throughout the day meaning we do not expect service to be impacted.”