Wolverhampton delivery drivers join national Deliveroo strike action

Delivery drivers from Wolverhampton joined coordinated strikes across the country against Deliveroo in the latest campaign by workers in the gig economy.

Deliveroo and Uber Eats drivers, including (front) Bachitar Boparal protest as part of a national strike for better worker conditions
Deliveroo and Uber Eats drivers, including (front) Bachitar Boparal protest as part of a national strike for better worker conditions

Strike organisers the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB) said hundreds had attended socially-distanced protests in Wolverhampton, London, York, Reading, and Sheffield.

Ten people from across Wolverhampton took part in the protest at St Peter's Square, opposite Wolverhampton Civic Centre, with others coming to show their support.

The protesters included Deliveroo and Uber Eats workers.

Bachitar Boparal was one of the participants and the 37-year-old from Penn said he was taking part to protest against what he called exploitation by delivery companies.

He said: "We're not even getting paid national minimum wage, working eight hours a day and earning around £40, which is barely four pounds an hour.

"We also don't get holiday or sickness pay and we feel like we're working long hours for peanuts, which is not feasible for cost of living.

"That's why we're here today to let the public know about the companies they're buying from and raise awareness of the issues we are currently having.

"It's great to be part of a national movement as we are all one unit up and down the UK, working to get better living conditions for all the delivery workers."

"Today has been about raising awareness of the conditions we work under and how we want a better deal."

Deliveroo disputed the union's claims, saying only a "tiny minority" of workers took action, adding it was launching a consultation with riders about how to invest a new £50 million community fund.

Deliveroo shares climbed higher on their first day of full trading on Wednesday, increasing by more than 3 per cent to 290p in early trading before edging back slightly.

It is the first day that retail investors have been able to trade shares in the business, however institutional investors have been able to trade in the stock since conditional trading started a week ago.

The industrial action follows recent campaigns by those in the gig economy to be classed as workers and so receive better pay and conditions.

Unions won legal action recently against ride hailing firm Uber.

Alex Marshall, president of the IWGB and a former bicycle courier, said: "Deliveroo presents a false choice between flexibility and basic rights but the Uber ruling showed that, here as well as abroad, workers can have both."

Deliveroo said it surveyed 8,500 riders on Tuesday and 89 per cent said they were satisfied working for the company.

When asked what are the most important factors when working with Deliveroo, the top answer was 'Working when I like', followed by 'Working where I like' and 'The ability to choose which orders I accept', said Deliveroo.

'How much money I make' was number five, said a spokeswoman.

She added: "This small self-appointed union does not represent the vast majority of riders who tell us they value the total flexibility they enjoy while working with Deliveroo alongside the ability to earn over £13 an hour.

"Only yesterday we ran a survey and 89 per cent of riders said that they were happy with the company and flexibility was their priority.

"We are proud that rider satisfaction is at an all-time high and that thousands of people are applying to be Deliveroo riders each and every week.

"Riders are at the heart of our business and today we are beginning a new consultation with riders about how we should invest our new £50 million community fund."

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