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Valentine’s Day Strike: UK Delivery Drivers From Uber Eats And Deliveroo Demand Fair Pay And Safe Conditions

Drivers from food delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Stuart.com are geared up to strike on Valentine’s Day, advocating for improved pay and working conditions. This collective strike involves 3,000 drivers and riders from all four platforms and is scheduled to take place from 5 PM to 10 PM on Wednesday.

A grassroots group of couriers known as Delivery Jobs UK is organizing this stoppage to bring attention to the inadequate pay and precarious working conditions that many workers endure while delivering food and groceries across several cities in this country. This group emphasizes that delivery riders often confront dangerous weather conditions and cover ‘absurd distances’ for deliveries, receiving compensation at ‘ridiculous values’ ranging from £2.80 to £3.50.

Delivery Jobs UK stated on their Instagram page, “Sacrificing a few hours for our rights is essential, instead of continuing to work for insufficient wages… Our demand is simple: we want fair compensation for the work we do. We are tired of being exploited and risking our lives every day… It's time for our voices to be heard.”

App-based delivery drivers are typically considered self-employed contractors, relieving their employers from the legal obligation to pay them the ‘national living wage’ of £10.42 per hour, which is set to increase to £11.44 per hour in April. In November of last year, the Supreme Court ruled that delivery app drivers were not workers of the platform after the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain fought for the right to unionize and bargain on their behalf.

Data has been collected from several couriers working with these platforms by an app called Rodeo, which compares their earnings across delivery companies. This data reveals that fees were cut in 2022-2023 despite high inflation. It has been observed that delivery riders find it very difficult to earn even the basic minimum wage, let alone a higher amount. The platforms pay a flat rate minimum per job with an added fee for distance and other factors, but the algorithm for the calculation keeps changing, making it unclear on what basis payments are made.

Dr. Callum Cant from Essex Business School at the University of Essex has studied the gig economy and asserts that changes in fees have led to delivery drivers earning almost 40% less in wages since 2018. “The single problem that we have had with these apps over the last few years has been the continuous reduction in real wages. So over time, things have got worse,” says Dr. Cant. 

He adds, “With a minimum fee of £2.80, most might only be making three orders an hour, and then they have to subtract their costs too. Some are making £7 an hour, which in London is barely livable.”

While delivery drivers from most platforms are not a part of any union, Deliveroo has a first-of-its-kind agreement with GMB, ensuring that drivers are paid at least the national minimum wage plus costs for the time they are on an order. A spokesperson for the company stated, “Thousands of people apply to work with Deliveroo each month, rider retention rates are high and the overwhelming majority of riders tell us that they are satisfied working with us.”

Other platforms have also maintained a similar statement, asserting that a majority of their riders are content with the pay and that they strive to provide ‘competitive earning opportunities’ for their riders.

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