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​Deliveroo Drivers Rally Against 'Soul-Destroying' Work

​Deliveroo Drivers Rally Against 'Soul-Destroying' Work

Posted by Emma on 24th May 2024

Deliveroo drivers in London, representing diverse communities, including Brazilian, Bengali, Romanian, and British riders, recently staged a powerful protest during the company's annual general meeting (AGM). This demonstration, held outside the offices of the White & Case law firm in central London, was a testament to their shared dissatisfaction with what they describe as 'soul-destroying' working conditions.

The drivers, many of whom are classified as self-employed contractors, do not receive the statutory National Living Wage of £11.44 per hour since their pay is based on per delivery with a variable distance fee. Although Deliveroo claims to have increased the guaranteed minimum pay for active order periods to £12 an hour plus vehicle costs, many drivers argue that this figure is often unachievable in practice due to delays like waiting times at restaurants and traffic conditions.

During the protest, drivers held placards with messages like "justice for riders" and "riders suffer, bosses profit" and conducted a motorcade through the City of London, honking horns and displaying signs. The protest highlighted their grievances regarding unclear pay calculations, lack of job security, and the company's failure to engage meaningfully over these issues.

Inside the AGM, Deliveroo's CEO, Will Shu and the board faced tough questions from driver representatives, supported by ShareAction, a responsible investment charity, and the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). However, union representatives described the responses from Deliveroo's board as "bog-standard," suggesting a lack of substantial dialogue or solutions offered to the drivers.

Matthew Toun, a dedicated Deliveroo driver for over five years, bravely shared his testimony with The Standard. He detailed how pay conditions have steadily worsened over the years, highlighting the bidding process for orders that forces drivers to accept ever-lower pay rates. 'It's soul-destroying,' Toun remarked, echoing the despair many drivers felt under the current system.

Deliveroo, on its part, maintains that the majority of its riders are satisfied with their working conditions. It cites high rider retention and application rates and emphasises its flexibility and benefits, such as free insurance, sickness cover, and financial support for new parents. However, these statements contrast sharply with the outcry during the AGM and the visible frustration during the protest.

This protest is part of a broader pattern of disputes involving food delivery platforms like Just Eat and Uber Eats, where drivers have staged multiple strikes this year over similar issues. The Deliveroo drivers' protest underscores a growing discontent among gig economy workers over precarious working conditions and pay discrepancies in an increasingly challenging economic environment.