Deliveroo riders press for workers' rights after Uber drivers' legal victory
A group of couriers working for food delivery company Deliveroo are set to take legal action if the company rejects their request for union recognition and employment rights.
It comes after private hire firm Uber lost a legal battle in which two drivers successfully argued that they were employees rather than self-employed operators.
Sweeping changes affecting thousands of workers could be triggered by the Uber ruling, which could entitle them to holiday pay and a guaranteed minimum wage.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has sent a letter on behalf of riders in north London, asking Deliveroo for recognition for the union to bargain on their behalf.
IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: "What we're asking for is a collective bargaining agreement, and that means it's for the zone of Camden, but obviously this is just a test run and if we win this we can roll it out to other zones.
"And what that means is that Deliveroo would have to sit down and negotiate pay and terms and conditions with the union which would be acting on behalf of the workers."
Dr Moyer-Lee said Deliveroo has 10 business days in which to respond, and if it does not an application will be submitted to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) asking it to declare that Deliveroo must engage with collective bargaining.
"But to do that, the CAC would have to decide that Deliveroo drivers are workers and not independent contractors, so the main point being that it's another way of achieving a change in employment status, similar to what was done with Uber," he said.
Deliveroo delivers food from thousands of restaurants which do not have their own delivery service and counts the likes of Pizza Express, Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen among its clients.
The company says it is "committed to providing great opportunities" for its riders.
Billy Shannon, a rider who works for Deliveroo in Camden, north London, said riders receive £3.75 per delivery, according to the BBC.
He told the broadcaster: "We don't get an hourly fee, so that means at times when there aren't that many deliveries and it is not that busy, we can be waiting for up to an hour for a delivery without getting paid a penny."
In August, Deliveroo offered concessions in a pay dispute with workers after the Government got involved and Labour accused the company of overseeing a return to Victorian Britain.
The firm said it would give workers the chance to opt out of the pilot scheme which pays £3.75 per delivery rather than the current terms of £7 an hour and £1 per delivery.
It said it would also guarantee at least £7.50 an hour and petrol for those who continue to participate, following protests by hundreds of riders in London.
A Deliveroo spokeswoman said: "As Deliveroo continues to grow, we are committed to providing great opportunities for UK riders, with the flexible work riders value, and a payment model which is fair, rewarding and better matches riders' time with our customers' orders.
"We have been in close and regular contact with our riders throughout the trial and as you would expect we will be writing directly to our riders to inform them of the next steps as the trial comes to an end.
"The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and we welcome the opportunity to further engage with riders, policymakers and the unions as the sharing economy in Britain continues to grow."
The IWGB is holding a meeting for campaign supporters in King's Cross at 7pm on Tuesday.