Sheffield couriers strike

Submitted by AWL on 24 November, 2020 - 8:33 Author: Michael Elms
Deliveroo workers in revolt

On Wednesday 25 November, food couriers in Sheffield will carry out an all-day, all-out strike.

Their demands, aimed at all food platforms, are for a living wage plus costs, a fair process on terminations from platforms, and a hiring freeze.

In recent weeks, many couriers across Uber, Stuart and Deliveroo, have found themselves being terminated with no right of appeal. In many of these cases the reason for the termination is computer error. For example, Uber requires riders to submit selfies during a shift in order to prove that they have not rented out their account to a third party. But Uber is either using incompetent HR staff, or, more likely, inadequate facial recognition technology. One courier was accused of fraud and sacked because he had shaved his beard. Alongside poverty pay and Deliveroo’s threat of flooding the streets with an additional 15,000 couriers, there is a lot that needs changing in this industry, fast.

The organisation of the couriers in Sheffield into the IWGB union, with the assistance of both the IWGB nationally and local Workers’ Liberty and Labour Party activists, has come on by leaps and bounds. Of the core full-time workforce (i.e. drivers who work 50-70 hour weeks, upon whom the service relies), a majority are now paid-up union members. Even more are part of the “open” pro-union WhatsApp group. The strike on Wednesday has been organised in detail to ensure flying picket coverage of the whole city, with arrangements for strike pay and Covid safety.

On Wednesday 25 November, food couriers in Sheffield will carry out an all-day, all-out strike.

Their demands, aimed at all food platforms, are for a living wage plus costs, a fair process on terminations from platforms, and a hiring freeze.

In recent weeks, many couriers across Uber, Stuart and Deliveroo, have found themselves being terminated with no right of appeal. In many of these cases the reason for the termination is computer error. For example, Uber requires riders to submit selfies during a shift in order to prove that they have not rented out their account to a third party. But Uber is either using incompetent HR staff, or, more likely, inadequate facial recognition technology. One courier was accused of fraud and sacked because he had shaved his beard. Alongside poverty pay and Deliveroo’s threat of flooding the streets with an additional 15,000 couriers, there is a lot that needs changing in this industry, fast.

The organisation of the couriers in Sheffield into the IWGB union, with the assistance of both the IWGB nationally and local Workers’ Liberty and Labour Party activists, has come on by leaps and bounds. Of the core full-time workforce (i.e. drivers who work 50-70 hour weeks, upon whom the service relies), a majority are now paid-up union members. Even more are part of the “open” pro-union WhatsApp group. The strike on Wednesday has been organised in detail to ensure flying picket coverage of the whole city, with arrangements for strike pay and Covid safety.

Through organisation, with the help of the socialist movement, couriers in Sheffield are setting out to civilise a lawless industry.

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