The Socialist 10 February 2021 |
Join the Socialist
| Audio | PDF | ebook
York couriers call on council for protection from "fear of dismissal"
Ethan Bradley, IWGB Couriers and Logistics Branch and York IWGB
Key-working couriers are currently locked in a battle against York city council in a bid to protect our income - and jobs. Gig economy riders, who have worked throughout the pandemic delivering meals, groceries and medicines, have seen incomes plunge rapidly.
We are lobbying to win city-centre access throughout the day. These areas are typically fully pedestrianised, but as local couriers' union York IWGB argues, these restrictions are not taken into account by companies - and this leaves us under constant fear of dismissal.
These gig-employers - including Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat - misclassify couriers as self-employed contractors, rather than as workers. They exploit this legal loophole to deny couriers basic rights, such as holiday pay and minimum wage entitlement.
It also allows them to sack riders with no due process, no appeal, and no right to union representation. The union's national 'Clapped and Scrapped' campaign has detailed many cases of riders being left suddenly unable to support themselves and their families and facing extreme hardship.
To justify these terminations, the companies claim that riders failed to meet delivery targets. York's rigid and inflexible restrictions - and similar restrictions elsewhere - leave the unenviable choice between risking a £50 police fine (which can currently wipe out a day's income) and risking losing livelihoods by not meeting impossibly tight targets.
Couriers have provided a lifeline throughout this crisis: to vulnerable residents, to public health, to our city's cafés and restaurants and protecting countless other jobs. The council needs to listen to our petition, and lobby and step up to protect us. And it needs to do so now.