ITF: Deliveroo riders call out company for pandemic profiteering ahead of IPO

·3 min read

Riders facing poverty pay and dangerous work form global network to highlight Deliveroo's exploitative business model to investors.

LONDON, March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Deliveroo and its early investors expect to raise billions from an imminent IPO on the London Stock Exchange, but the riders who make their service possible are crying foul. Riders say Deliveroo's predatory business model means workers shoulder significant risks, including low pay rates, dangerous working conditions and unfair deactivations.

A global network of Deliveroo riders is warning potential investors of growing legal, regulatory, and reputational risks, urging them not to back the company until it improves rider safety, conditions and pay. Today riders published a letter to Deliveroo CEO Will Shu calling on the company to stop treating riders like second-class citizens.

Deliveroo profits have soared during the pandemic, with its riders delivering takeaways and groceries to millions of people across 12 countries. Shu reportedly stands to see his stake in the company grow to up to $910 million with the IPO. "Instead of affording riders the rights they deserve, Deliveroo has been putting even more pressure on them," says Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), which is supporting the riders' network. "While competitors like JustEat are changing their ways, Deliveroo has left the riders feeding our cities struggling to feed their own families."

Deliveroo is the most protested platform in the world according to the Leeds Index of Platform Labour Protest, which records reported instances of protest by gig workers. Riders have reported their accounts being deactivated without explanation, having to meet unrealistic and dangerous delivery targets, and, amid a global pandemic, a lack of adequate health and safety measures. "This sits alongside continued attempts by Deliveroo to shirk responsibility for job security, minimum wages and social security protections by misclassifying riders as self-employed contractors," says Cotton.

Despite attempts by Deliveroo and other gig economy companies to misclassify riders, courts – including the Supreme Courts in the United Kingdom and France – are increasingly recognising direct employment relationships.

Last month, a Dutch court ruled that Deliveroo misclassified its workers as independent contractors to avoid responsibility for holiday, sick pay and other employment entitlements. Spanish courts earlier came to a similar conclusion. These landmark rulings highlight a growing recognition of the legal and regulatory obligations on app-based companies.

"Deliveroo cynically uses the language of flexibility as a fig-leaf for shirking their responsibilities to employees," says Felipe Diez Prat, member of Spanish union UGT and former Deliveroo rider. "Deliveroo's IPO is significant because it speaks to a future in which companies are rewarded for driving down pay for workers."

Without its riders, Deliveroo wouldn't be the global brand it is today, says Deliveroo rider Jérémy Wick, a member of the CGT in Bordeaux. "Investors and consumers must tell Deliveroo to do right by the riders who makes its business viable. Be a responsible business: protect the health and safety of riders and give them fair and transparent pay."

The ITF is supporting the #Rights4Riders network as part of its commitment to amplify organising by platform workers. In November, the ITF launched 10 gig economy employer principles, which provide an outline for ending exploitation in the gig economy.

Riders are available for comment. To arrange, contact Dalila Mahdawi: media@itf.org.uk