Deliveroo drivers protest over ‘soul-destroying’ working conditions outside AGM

Deliveroo drivers protest over ‘soul-destroying’ working conditions outside AGM

Dozens of members of the Brazilian, Bengali, Romanian and British rider communities arrived for a demonstration outside the offices of White & Case law firm in London on Thursday as the AGM took place inside.

Protesters held up placards saying: “Justice for riders” and “Riders suffer, bosses profit” as several people played loud percussion instruments.

Deliveroo drivers stage a motorcade protest after the company’s AGM (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

They then staged a motorcade protest, honking their horns and holding up the signs as they drove together through the City of London.

The drivers allege that the delivery app company has repeatedly failed to engage with them over poor pay and job security as they face growing financial difficulties.

Because they are self-employed contractors, employers are not legally obliged to pay app-based delivery drivers the statutory national living wage of £11.44 an hour.

Drivers get paid per delivery with a variable distance fee, but many complain that it is not clear how the changing rates are worked out.

Inside, chief executive Will Shu and the board were challenged by driver representatives with the support of responsible investment charity ShareAction and the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB).

Union representatives said most of the questions were from drivers but the board responded to them with “bog-standard” answers.

Deliveroo formed a partnership with the GMB union in 2022 and recently agreed to increase the guaranteed minimum pay for the periods when drivers are on an order to £12 an hour, plus vehicle costs.

However, Matthew Toun, a 35-year-old driver from Reading, said the pay will still work out as less than £12 an hour because drivers often take longer to carry out a delivery than Deliveroo estimates due to factors like waiting times at restaurants or traffic.

Mr Toun, who has been a driver for more than five years, said: “We have seen a steady real-term decrease (in pay) year on year.”

He said he works as a driver to supplement his income while he manages his own bike shop and supports his family.

“Our labour is being bid on every day to the lowest paying rider to take that order. But you have no choice. It’s soul-destroying,” the driver said.

“I have high blood pressure and a lot of that is due to stress and that is just down to the anxiety of having to pay the bills,” he said, adding that he has £50 in his current account.

Celestino Pereira, 41, who has worked for Deliveroo for five years at the protest. (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)Celestino Pereira, 41, who has worked for Deliveroo for five years at the protest (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

Another driver, Celestino Pereira, 41, who has worked for Deliveroo for five years after moving to London from Brazil, said: “Everyone is unhappy with the job.”

Mr Pereira said he spoke little English so it was one of the few jobs that he could do in the UK, adding that the pay was good in the beginning.

“But everything has increased – my rent, my groceries, everything. We are struggling,” he said.

“Everyone has to work at least 10 hours, sometimes 13 a day, to meet the cost of living.

“People get sick, I’ve seen marriages destroyed,” he added.

A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “We value dialogue with riders and were grateful to the riders who attended and shared their experiences and questions with the Board today, as well as those who stayed after the meeting to share their feedback with our team.

“Deliveroo offers the flexible work riders tell us they want alongside attractive earning opportunities and protections, including free insurance, sickness cover, financial support when riders become new parents and a range of training opportunities.

“Rider retention and application rates are high and the overwhelming majority of riders tell us that they are satisfied working with us.”

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