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23 Mar 2022

Seanin Graham, The Irish Times

UK: Just Eat, Deliveroo & Uber Eats drivers stage Northern Ireland's 'first gig economy strike', calling for minimum income guarantee amid cost-of-living crisis, rising fuel costs & wage cuts

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"‘Gig economy’ workers strike in Belfast over pay and conditions", 23 March 2022

Food delivery workers doing 12- to 16-hour shifts for as little as £100 (€120) took part in Northern Ireland’s first “gig economy” strike...to demand improved pay and conditions.

More than 100 people, mainly from migrant communities, employed by phone app takeaway giants including Just Eat, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats, staged the six-hour action in Belfast.

Rocketing fuel costs, wage cuts and the cost-of-living crisis led to the strike, which was organised by the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU).

With no holiday or sick pay entitlements as the couriers are “self employed independent contractors”, they are demanding “a minimum income guarantee of at least £10 per hour plus costs”...

James Farrar, ADCU general secretary, told The Irish Times that this was the beginning of a campaign to highlight the “brutal exploitation” of vulnerable workers by international “tech” companies to make profits.

“... it’s hard to build collective power against a social media platform so that’s why we asked consumers not to use the app today. Many of these companies are using migrant labour. That’s another big part of the exploitation picture, discrimination is a big maker here as well.”

A Just Eat spokesperson said...“...Our delivery payment model has been designed to give couriers the flexibility to deliver when they choose. We continue to offer a competitive base rate to self-employed couriers and pay is reviewed regularly.”

A Deliveroo spokesman...said it “...Our way of working is designed around what riders tell us matters to them most – flexibility – and we are pleased that more than 86 per cent of riders in Belfast tell us they are satisfied with Deliveroo.”

Meanwhile, an Uber Eats representative said it offers a “flexible way for couriers to earn by using the app when and where they choose. We know that the vast majority of couriers are satisfied with their experience on the app, however we regularly engage with couriers to look at how we can improve their experience.”