By Sophie Squire
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Delivery riders protest to stop police raids in Hackney

The protest came after hundreds of people confronted a police raid on delivery riders in Hackney earlier this month
Issue 2806
Delivery riders in Hackney protest outside the town hall, a crowd lets off red, green and yellow flares

Delivery riders protest outside Hackney town hall

Delivery riders and their supporters rallied outside Hackney town hall, east London, on Wednesday to demand improved working conditions and an end to police intimidation. Riders gathered at Ashwin street in Dalston and momentarily shut down the streets of Hackney as they rode to the town hall. 

The protest came after the cops harassed riders—and tried to arrest one for “immigration offences”—on Ashwin Street on 14 May. That night hundreds of angry protesters confronted the police and chased them away.

Outside the town hall, riders were greeted by council workers who are striking for a 10 percent pay. Alex, an IWGB union member and delivery rider, said police intimidation is a daily reality. “When the police do random checks, they ask for everything,” he told Socialist Worker. “They ask for your licence and immigration status—it’s scary.

“They think we’re all criminals. They see a Deliveroo bag. They see a target.” 

Rider Michael added, “I was checked yesterday. I was waiting for my order, and the police officer said I couldn’t wait there. They do this constantly. I feel sorry for all the riders that have to endure this. It makes me depressed and angry.” 

In January workers rallied outside the town hall to demand the right to park outside a local McDonald’s and to have access to toilets and a place of shelter. After this protest, Alex said cops began to ramp up intimidation. “We feel the police intimidation is a response from the council to our protest,” he said. 

“I also think the police themselves have gained a lot of confidence from the passing of the policing bill and the Nationalities and Borders Bill. In my rider’s WhatsApp groups, I can see that the intimidation of riders is happening everywhere. Unfortunately I think it’s only going to get worse.”

Alex was clear that Deliveroo doing a sweetheart deal with the GMB union won’t deliver for workers. “In all the years I’ve been a delivery driver, I’ve never met anyone in the GMB,” he said. “In fact I’d never even heard of the GMB before they struck a deal with Deliveroo. It seems more of a business interaction than something that will help any of us.” 

At the rally protesters chanted, “Keep riders on our streets, safe from police,” and, “Whose streets, our streets.” Speakers at the protest were clear that ordinary people must be ready to fight back against repressive Tory laws and immigration raids. 

John from the IWGB told the crowd, “On that Saturday the police tried to arrest our brothers, but we stopped them. We need to replicate that success and build anti-racist networks that can stop raids across the country.” More protests and action is needed to beat back the delivery bosses—and take on the Tories’ hostile environment. 

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