London-based food delivery startup Deliveroo has abandoned plans to force riders to sign a new contract that they argued could have seen them earn less than half their current salaries, the company announced on Tuesday.
Riders were initially told that they would have to sign new contract terms, or no longer be able to work for the firm.
Deliveroo has traditionally paid couriers in London £7 an hour +£1 for every delivery, as well as a contribution towards petrol costs for those riders using motorcycles. But the company sent out an email last week outlining plans to roll out a new payment scheme trial for 280 couriers in London that would see them earn £3.75 per delivery.
Protests have been taking place outside Deliveroo’s office in Central London over the last week, with couriers arguing that the proposed contracts would result in many of them earning barely half the National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour.
With the situation showing no sign of dissipating, Deliveroo confirmed on Tuesday it will allow couriers to work under their existing contracts instead of being forced to take part in the new trial pay scheme.
The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) Union, which has been helping to organise the strikes, described the breakthrough as a victory on its social media accounts.
It posted the following update to its Facebook page on Tuesday:
— VICTORY TO THE DELIVEROO STRIKE —
The delegation of drivers have just exited the Deliveroo head office, having finished negotiations with Management. They agreed to the following:
– No victimisation
– No new contract
– Even if drivers have signed the new contract already, it no longer has effect and you are not bound to it
– This will be a trial until 14th September when Deliveroo will meet again with workers to assess the month’s pay
– If you don’t want to be on the trial, you WILL have to move zone, but you will be able to move to any zone of YOUR choice and be guaranteed the same hours you are currently on.”
— IWGB Couriers Branch (@IWGB_CLB) August 16, 2016
Couriers who took part in the strikes have also been reassured that their jobs are safe, according to the IWGB Union.
“We truly believe — and have seen in previous trials — that average rider fees will increase,” wrote Deliveroo CEO and cofounder Will Shu in a blog post on Deliveroo’s website on Tuesday. “Indeed, in areas where we have launched this trial, rider fees have increased by over £2 per hour. In addition, riders have earned more than what they previously made, in aggregate, working less hours.
“But if riders wish to stick with the old scheme, we simply ask them to move over to a neighbouring zone, no more than two miles away. Signing the new pay-per-delivery service agreement will not be compulsory during the trial — if riders want to continue working in their zone under the pay-per-delivery trial to see how it works for them, they can do so.”
Shu added: “We have been listening to our riders to understand what matters and how we can make Deliveroo work better for them. Ultimately, if this model doesn’t work for our riders, it doesn’t work for us.”
While couriers can opt out of the trials, Deliveroo is still pushing ahead with them and the vast majority of couriers seem to be willing to give it a go, according to the company.
A Deliveroo spokesperson provided the following statement on Wednesday:
“We are moving ahead with our trial as planned today with 70% of riders in the trial zone opting in.
We’re confident our riders will see the benefit of our trial payment model and are offering them payment guarantees so they can feel secure about trying it out. We’re also operating an open door policy for our riders to come and ask any questions they might have.
Flexibility has always been central to our rider offering. When a rider starts working with us in London, they get a choice of over 49 areas in which they can work, and can accept or refuse work as they please. Each of these areas are about 4 square miles in size, and we provide an app that shows a suggested route from restaurant to the customer’s address, so they can get around efficiently and safely.
We’ve listened carefully to the concerns of our riders and assured them that they can continue to work under the old scheme if they wish to. We simply ask them to move to a neighbouring zone, which will be no more than two miles away. Our riders are the lifeblood of our company and what doesn’t work for them ultimately doesn’t work for us.”