By Sophie Squire
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Sweetheart deal by Deliveroo and GMB union undermines workers’ fightbacks

This article is over 1 years, 6 months old
Workers’ action, not social partnership with Deliveroo, can beat back the bosses
Issue 2805
Deliveroo riders, some waving IWGB union flags, go through central London illustrating a story about the Deliveroo and GMB deal

Riders have been organising through the IWGB union. The Deliveroo and GMB deal undermines their efforts (Picture: Guy Smallman)

In a disgraceful move, Deliveroo and the GMB union have signed a deal that will allow bosses to undermine workers organising to win over pay, terms and conditions. 

The new voluntary partnership agreement, announced on Thursday, makes GMB the only union recognised by the company. But it’s the IWGB union that has organised Deliveroo workers since 2016. 

Deliveroo founder Will Shu was “delighted to partner with the GMB”, claiming it would give “self-employed riders flexibility, guaranteed earnings, representation and benefits”. The GMB heralded the deal as “historic” for workers—and GMB national officer Mick Rix even said that Deliveroo deserved “praise”. 

The IWGB union has led Deliveroo workers in several successful campaigns for better pay and conditions since 2016. It pointed out that, until now, Deliveroo bosses have wholly refused to negotiate with workers or their unions. 

For several years, the IWGB has fought Deliveroo in court to be able to represent workers in collective bargaining. But three court of appeal judges have thrown out the IWGB’s case, and denied Deliveroo riders worker status under law claiming they are “self-employed”. 

The IWGB said, “Deliveroo has cynically made this backroom deal with the GMB, which has no record of organising couriers and presents no threat to their exploitative business practices.  Deliveroo is undermining the efforts of couriers to pursue their rights through the courts, to organise for a voice at work, and to improve their working lives. With Deliveroo’s first AGM next week, this announcement is nothing more than a hollow and cynical PR move.”

This isn’t the first time bosses have made rotten deals with union leaders to try and crush effective workers’ activity. Taxi service Uber and GMB signed a union recognition deal last year, but it didn’t give workers a real voice or allow them to collectively bargain over pay. Workers say their working conditions had not improved since its signing and, in many cases, have worsened. 

Deliveroo workers in Hackney, east London, in the IWGB, recently won a victory against the bosses at a Wingstop restaurant. Protests and a boycott forced bosses to allow workers to use toilets at the restaurant and build them a much larger space to wait for orders. It’s workers’ action—crucially  strikes—that can force Deliveroo bosses to bend to workers’ demands, not unions cosying up to bosses.

Delivery workers fight back in Dubai 

After Deliveroo workers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), went on strike earlier this month, workers from other delivery companies joined the fight. They forced the company to withdraw threats to reduce workers’ pay from £2.30 to £1.91 and increase shifts to 14 hours a day. 

Workers for Talabat—the Middle Eastern wing of German delivery giant Delivery Hero—began a strike on Monday to demand a pay rise of around 44p per delivery. Talabat riders have seen the success of Deliveroo workers and want the same. One rider said, “If Deliveroo gives this price… why are we not getting it.” 

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