Organise, organise, organise

Submitted by AWL on 20 February, 2019 - 1:10

Deliveroo riders in several cities struck on 14 February. An activist in the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB) Couriers and Logistics branch spoke to Solidarity about the strike.

Bristol was again the best city in terms of turnout, but the strike was very effective elsewhere too. In Horsham, Deliveroo’s business was almost completely shut down. Every restaurant was showing as “unavailable” on the app, except for one which uses the Deliveroo platform but hires its own private riders to make deliveries. There are around 50 riders in Horsham, and we’ve built organisation basically from one activist talking to people face-to-face.

That’s obviously less manageable in a city like London, where Deliveroo has thousands of riders divided between dozens of zones. In future we are looking to move to a zone-by-zone approach to organising there. The Manchester action was also very impressive; workers there have been well supported by Manchester IWW. It was also significant that workers struck in York. This was their first time striking; activists there were a little disappointed that they weren’t quite ready to join the strike on 1 February, so the fact that they struck this time shows that the campaign is spreading and organisation is developing.

Now we need to consolidate these actions and use them to build organisation at both local and national level. We need to seriously discuss the question of strike funds, as we all know this could be a long fight which will require sustained strikes. We also know that, while Deliveroo may make small regional concessions here and there, which are obviously important and not to be dismissed, big changes will require national level negotiations with Deliveroo’s central management. If we get those negotiations, we need to have the democratic structures in place to ensure that the negotiators are accountable to workers and are properly reflecting the demands of the strikes, so we need to develop our organisation.

Strong strike on 14 February

Deliveroo meal delivery riders struck in six cities on 14 February. A rider involved with the Bristol Couriers Network, affiliated with the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB), spoke to Solidarity about the strike in Bristol.

The strike was a success in Bristol. We were experimenting with a new tactic, a one-hour flash strike, which meant that between 30 and 40 strikers gathered in the centre of town for a picket that was more like a social gathering or party! This meant that we were able to talk to each other in a better way than we might’ve been able to if we’d had a march or a more formal demo.

That was good for building solidarity between people, and particularly between different types of workers such as scooter riders and bicycle couriers. The strike had a national impact. There are now quite a few cities where Deliveroo workers are organised and able to take action.

We’re confident that the strike will have a positive impact on developing our organisation. The form of action we took allowed us to have proper one-to-one conversations with people who may have come to one or two protests previously but hadn’t necessarily stuck around. Having a few beers and some food with them meant we could talk to them about getting involved in the committee. We’re definitely expecting a higher turnout at our next meeting. Building that organisation is key. We want to develop people who are currently prepared to strike and maybe come on a protest into people who see themselves as organisers and will take responsibility for building the campaign.

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