Deliveroo workers in the IWGB union in Sheffield struck on 14-15 October against Wagamama over pay and terminations.
From 4pm to 10pm on those two days, deliveries were boycotted at Wagamama, which is a major and exclusive client of the Deliveroo food delivery company. Couriers are fighting against a sustained drop in fees and a threatened mass-hiring drive by Deliveroo; and demanding basic due process be applied to the way that the app handles complaints and terminations. Presently drivers can find themselves dismissed arbitrarily from the app following a single anonymous complaint, with no right of hearing, representation, or appeal.
One driver, Khalid Kalil, has been a prominent feature in the anti-terminations campaign following his sacking on the strength of inaccurate and anonymous complaints. Strikingly, Khalid begged the platform to show him details of or evidence for his supposed wrongdoing. Deliveroo maintained a haughty silence… Until politicians and journalists intervened in his case at the IWGB union’s request. Once “respectable” figures took up the case, Deliveroo was much more forthcoming. The message is clear: to the multi-billion dollar app, the migrant workers who keep its business afloat do not matter.
The move to a two-day strike marked a significant escalation and a test of strength by the union. It passed this test: this strike saw the strongest and most sustained courier-only picketing yet. Non-courier volunteers took a back seat as shifts of couriers ran effecive pickets two nights running.
The union campaign against Deliveroo’s low pay and bad policies will continue. It is also expanding, as drivers in nearby Penistone and Barnsley are beginning to stir into action. Couriers in Sheffield have also developed a list of badly-behaved local restaurants, from whom they will be seeking redress in the coming days.
One major issue is the reports couriers are hearing of outbreaks in multiple fast-food restaurants in Sheffield. Restaurant managers have been failing to inform staff of when someone from their shift tests positive. Similarly, couriers are being kept in the dark. This is unsafe. Workers must be informed and be able to control the curbs on transmission in the workplaces.