Deliveroo Couriers are to strike again on 4 May in Nottingham, for higher pay and better conditions. They have already struck and held various other actions, winning some small concessions, and are pressing on.
Their demands, in line with demands of most groups nationally, are for minimum pay of £1/mile, £10/hour waiting time, greater transparency and visibility within the app, a hiring freeze, no “terminations” without due process and adequate evidence, and more.
Nottingham Riders’ Network are well organised, with a comparatively high number of couriers being members of our union, IWGB. When I visited on a previous action I felt a sense of community among couriers. They are linking to May Day events, and there has been talk of a Star Wars theme (May the Fourth be with you…).
The national IWGB Couriers’ Strike Hardship fund will be available to members in Nottingham for the strike, and worker-activists from elsewhere will travel to show solidarity.
In Italy, on 1 May, food couriers including Deliveroo couriers will strike for better working conditions.
York couriers struck on Good Friday, 19 April, primarily over the rolling out of a distance-based fee system by Deliveroo, which they are rightly concerned will lead to a fall in pay. They flyered the public that morning, getting what Will Bossman from the York Courier Community described as an “overwhelmingly positive” response.
The strike was a “flash shutdown”: they announced that they would be striking for three hours from 5-10 p.m., but not which three hours until that afternoon. The element of surprise causes more disruption to Deliveroo, for a given loss of earnings. Despite Deliveroo offering higher fees than usual, the turnout was even larger than at previous strikes.
Deliveroo claim that the changes are “to ensure riders [a]re paid more for longer distances”, claiming the “vast majority” of riders are “happy” with pay nationally “increasing”.
But from our pay analysis so far in Bristol, we can see that since July, when they introduced a distance-based fee system here, average hourly pay fell, slowly at first, and then faster, only starting to pick up slightly after our three strikes this year, when we won a hiring freeze. This pay structure also makes it easier for Deliveroo to slowly drop pay in a less noticeable way.
Within the logic of a piece-rate pay structure, variable pay per distance makes sense. But Deliveroo’s model for doing so is little more than another stealthy way to drop our pay.
In the medium term, we should fight for a liveable minimum pay for the time we are working.