Valentine’s Strike: Food Couriers Demand Fair Wages

Couriers for online delivery apps saw an opportunity to strike on Valentine’s Day, a busy night for Uber Eats, Deliveroo and co. The riders feel unappreciated and want to at least make the minimum wage during the cost of living crisis.

Online Workers Prep for Strikes

Food delivery apps and ride-hailing platforms face potential disruptions as thousands of drivers and couriers plan strikes over payment issues in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Although the strikes across the three nations have no central organizer, the strikes share a unified theme of addressing low pay and unsafe working conditions for gig workers.

The strikes couldn’t have come at a worse time for the apps. On Valentine’s Day, couriers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Deliveroo, Just Eat Takeaway, Uber Eats, and Stuart refused orders, with some protesting outside key locations.

Minimum Wage Loophole

Delivery app drivers are self-employed and don’t qualify for the minimum wage, making it even harder for employees to scrape a living during the cost of living crisis. 

In the UK, some apps even offered a £10 bonus incentive on the global day of love if they completed five orders or more and did not strike on the night.

The gig worker strikes gained momentum online, gathering support from striking groups and unions across the country and organized by Delivery Group UK.

Low Pay During a Cost of Living Crisis

It’s no secret that companies like Uber and Deliveroo continue to show consistent profits while their workers don’t get the desired minimum wage of £10.42 an hour. 

Reports showed a 9% drop in average pay per order on Just Eat and a 2% decline on Uber Eats in 2023 compared to the previous year for UK delivery drivers.

Earnings Decline for US Gig Workers

In the US, DoorDash rider earnings saw a marginal decrease, while Uber drivers’ average monthly gross earnings in 2023 experienced a 17% drop. Lyft driver earnings actually increased by 2.5%.

One courier and organizer of the UK strike, Ulisses, of Brazilian origin, stated, “The choice of Valentine’s Day for the strike is strategic, aimed at maximizing visibility and impact,”

“Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days for delivery services, with a high demand for meal deliveries,” Ulisses said, stressing that it’s the only way to make their voices heard and be taken seriously by employers.

Keeping Up With The Cost of Living

Ulisses argued that drivers are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of the world, “This action is a call to both the companies and the public to recognize and address the unsustainable earnings that have become all too common in the delivery industry.”

According to Dr Callum Cant of the University of Essex, “The single problem we have had with these apps over the last few years has been the continual reduction in real wages. So over time, things have got worse.”

Dr Cant continued, “These workers are so often treated as invisible. And they’re taken for granted,” which is why they’re striking on the busiest day of the year for delivery apps.

Delivery UK Statement

Organizers of the UK strike, Delivery Drivers UK, stated, “This Valentine’s Day strike highlights the growing tensions between gig economy workers and the platforms they work for.”

Another aim of the strike is to make the customers think of the delivery driver’s conditions when ordering food, “As consumers, it’s crucial to consider the conditions under which our conveniences are delivered.”

“Let’s stand in solidarity with those fighting for fair wages and better working conditions. It’s more than just a meal at stake – it’s about the dignity and rights of every worker,” the statement said.

The Employer’s Perspective

One Deliveroo spokesperson argued that employees say they want flexible working hours, which is why self-employed contracts are the most beneficial, according to the employers.

“Deliveroo aims to provide riders with the flexible work riders tell us they value, attractive earning opportunities and protections,” he said in an interview.

An Uber Eats spokesperson said, “We offer 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.”

An Opportunity to Strike

During the cost of living crisis, more people are ordering their app-discounted Valentine’s meals to their homes, meaning delivery drivers are more important than ever. Couriers took their opportunity to break into the minimum wage bracket, which will increase to £11.44 in April.

The post Valentine’s Strike: Food Couriers Demand Fair Wages first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Antonello Marangi.

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