By Sophie Squire
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Deliveroo strike in Dubai forces bosses to back down

The Deliveroo drivers organised the walkout despite harsh repression of trade union activism under UAE labour laws
Issue 2084
Deliveroo riders strike in Dubai, a crowd of about 20 people

Deliveroo riders organised the strike in Dubai through messaging apps such as WhatsApp

A strike of Deliveroo riders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has forced bosses of the fast food delivery app to bend to workers’ demands. Hundreds of riders, who are mostly migrant workers, took action. Deliveroo planned to reduce the amount it paid riders from £2.30 to £1.91 for each delivery—and increase the length of shifts to 14 hours a day. 

Deliveroo rider Naeem Iqbal said, “They are not providing us with our legal rights according to law and decreasing rates while petrol prices are going up every month. We are humans, not donkeys.” 

After news of the cut to pay spread, workers quickly organised themselves, mainly using messaging apps such as Whatsapp and Telegram. Some workers shut down their Deliveroo app. Others stayed at home. Groups of striking riders rode to restaurants across the city to persuade more workers to walk out.  

The strike quickly brought the city’s food delivery services to a standstill. A panicked Deliveroo sent an email to partnered restaurants late in the evening. “We are currently facing an issue with our riders,” it said. “Riders are striking and refusing to attend their shifts and deliver orders.” 

The walkout hit hard as restaurants were expecting high volumes of orders during the final days of Ramadan. 

Workers are also angry that they face the high possibility of getting injured or killed on the job. There were 400 accidents involving delivery drivers in 2021 alone, a hundred more than in 2020.

 

Under pressure from workers, Deliveroo announced that it would not force through the attacks around pay and shifts. Their action is even more impressive as strikes are illegal under UAE labour law, and strikers and trade unions receive no legal protection.  These laws can lead to workers facing suspension and even deportation if they take part in industrial action. 

Workers said they knew the risk but decided to strike anyway. It showed how workers can get quick results when they lead bold and well-timed actions. 

But the battle against Deliveroo continues. Workers for the company have been on strike in almost every country that the company operates in. More strikes and solidarity can force the bosses to deliver. 

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