The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is taking food delivery app operator Deliveroo to the Supreme Court, accusing it of denying riders the right to collective bargaining.
Although a date for the hearing has yet to be set, the legal challenge will seek to establish that Deliveroo riders are workers rather than self-employed, which would entitle them to the national minimum wage under UK employment law. Get statutory minimum holiday pay and rest breaks, as well as protection from unlawful discrimination and whistleblowing.
While Deliveroo and GMB signed a voluntary partnership agreement in May 2022 – giving the trade union the right to jointly bargain over pay and represent individual riders in disputes with the company – the IWGB claimed the agreement failed to address a number of issues.
These include the fact that riders are still classed as self-employed and therefore not yet entitled to holiday or sick pay and pensions, as well as issues related to recruitment time and unpaid waiting time, which the IWGB says is the biggest cause of low pay. .
While Deliveroo has separately pledged to pay its 90,000 riders at least minimum wage, this only applies when an order is placed, not when they log into the app for work.
IWGB and other smaller unions At the time Deliveroo-GMB condemned the deal as “soft union-busting”. Designed to destroy the grassroots, self-organizing efforts of company workers.
“It is outrageous that Deliveroo continues to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds fighting the IWGB in court over collective bargaining rights when it has just given another unrepresented union collective bargaining rights,” said Alex Marshall, a former courier and president of the IWGB.
“Clearly, Deliveroo recognizes the validity of collective bargaining for couriers but is not prepared to engage in collective bargaining with the union that has the largest membership of gig economy couriers. Deliveroo should be investing this money into courier pay and conditions, rather than trying to silence its workers who just want a seat at the table.”
Deliveroo courier Shaf Hussain added that since he started working for Deliveroo five years ago, fees have steadily declined and operating costs have increased.
“At a time when I can barely pay my energy bills and the cost of living is still rising, I find it outrageous that Deliveroo has spent so much time and money denying its workers the fundamental right to a collective voice,” he said.
“Management at Deliveroo clearly have no concept of being a full-time rider, and are so afraid of what we might ask that they would move heaven and earth to deny us the option to negotiate. This case isn’t about them disagreeing with our claims, it’s about turning a deaf ear to them and pretending our experiences don’t exist.
In response to the legal challenge, a Deliveroo spokesperson said UK courts had repeatedly found that its riders were self-employed, which it claimed was “the only status that gives riders the freedom and control they value”.
In June 2021, The UK Court of Appeal upheld earlier decisions in another case brought by the IWGB that Deliveroo riders were self-employed. and no right to organize through trade unions.
But the judge Nicholas Underhill admits that rule This could be seen as “rival”, as “unlike Deliveroo it is easy to see how riders could benefit from organizing collectively to represent their interests”.
Another judge, Peter Coulson, agreed that the decision “may seem contradictory”, adding: “I fully accept that there may be other cases where, on different facts and on a wider range of arguments available, a different result might have been reached. “
A Deliveroo spokesperson added that the case now being taken to the Supreme Court “focuses only on very narrow issues relating to collective bargaining rights in the UK”, noting that “even in this very narrow context, UK courts have found Deliveroo riders to be self-employed. will be and Deliveroo fully expects this to be the case going forward”.
“Deliveroo is proud to provide flexible, self-employment jobs enjoyed by thousands of riders across the country,” the spokesperson added. “Deliveroo riders can be their own boss and have safety while they work. Deliveroo was among the first platforms to offer free insurance to riders, which we’ve expanded to cover periods of sickness and support for new parents, and our voluntary recognition agreement with the GMB union gives riders guaranteed earnings, representation and benefits.”
Deliveroo riders organized under the IWGB previously went on strike over similar issues in April 2021. Now being raised in the Supreme Court, which coincided with the company’s initial public offering (IPO).
Although Deliveroo’s float is still the biggest London IPO since mining giant Glencoe went public in 2011, it was widely regarded as a flop after shares fell as much as 30%. Many big investors have pulled back from buying shares because of concerns for workers’ rightsThe company’s overall valuation was cut to £5.5bn from £8.8bn
Other gig economy firms have also been challenged by unions over the classification of workers. In February 2021, The UK Supreme Court ruled against Uber drivers The following self-employed persons should be classified as workers instead Private hire driver Yasin Aslam and his union have brought a legal challengeApp Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU).
While Uber agreed in March to pay its UK drivers the minimum wage, it said it would only apply to the time they were scheduled to travel, instead, As the Supreme Court has clearly ruledFrom the moment they log into the app.
Commenting on the IWGB’s lawsuit against Deliveroo, Yvonne Gallagher, a partner and head of employment at Herbottle & Lewis, said the company may be concerned about the prospect of new claims, particularly in the wake of what was presented as a ground-breaking deal with the GMB.
He also noted that while the Deliveroo-GMB contract agreed to a limited level of sick pay, benefits and union negotiating rights, it did so without conceding the status of workers to riders.
“If Deliveroo were to go to trial, there is a real risk that its riders and drivers will be found to be workers in line with Uber’s rule. If that is the case, they will be liable to pay the minimum wage and holiday pay for working hours,” he told Computer Weekly.
“Uber’s ruling recognizes that Uber drivers’ work hours can cover all time from when a driver launches the app at the start of their workday, and not just once a job is accepted. Deliveroo may be able to differentiate, given that their journey times are typically shorter and their riders/drivers may be more locally based and may also work on other delivery apps, but they need to demonstrate this.”
He added that Deliveroo could find the combined efforts of the two unions meant it made a higher offer to riders than expected: “More broadly, any IWGB action could lead to an increase in their membership which would improve their negotiating position.”