During the week leading up to Christmas 2018 Deliveroo took it upon themselves to sack (or ‘terminate’ in RooSpeak) hundreds of couriers, sending out identical emails alleging fraud on the part of the sacked couriers. No notice was given, and no opportunity for appeal. When challenged to give specific evidence of these fraud allegations Deliveroo has so far flat out refused. We can only speculate on why Deliveroo would choose to make such an audacious attack on their workforce, so close to Christmas. Perhaps it was a cynical ploy to increase staff turnover, weakening our collective power, or perhaps a bug in their terminator algorithm caused some overzealous culling.
While recognising that our legal status as self-employed, drastically limits our recourse to legal protection, we believe that by working together and taking collective action we can best force Deliveroo to pay attention to our grievances.
We, the IWW Couriers Network, have publicly demanded that Deliveroo give full evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of our terminated colleagues, or they reinstate them with immediate effect. But demands alone are unlikely to be enough. We can’t promise you that we will get you your job back, or a fat defamation payout, but we believe that together we are stronger, and that by developing collective responses to such attacks on workers we have the best chance of success. Below are some suggestions of what you can do, whether you’re a recently terminated courier, an active courier, or anybody else who wishes to show support.
What can I do if I was terminated?
1. Get in touch with the IWW Couriers Network
The best way we can fight these unfair terminations is together. If you get in touch with us at [email protected] we can a) begin to assemble a picture of what took place, the scale and the distribution of these terminations and b) put you in touch with your nearest couriers network branch, so you can get involved in any plans that might be taking place in your city or region.
2. Submit a Subject Access Request to Deliveroo
One of the difficulties with challenging these terminations is that Deliveroo doesn’t provide enough information,or specific enough information, to challenge or appeal their decisions. A Subject Access Request (SAR) is a way of making a company hand over all the personal information they have about you. It is not certain that these requests will provide specific cause of terminations, but we expect that it will give us enough information to make a case that the fraud allegations are baseless. A successful SAR needs to be very specific in what it asks for, and as such we have provided a template that can be used. This template can be found at the bottom of the page.
3. Join the IWW!
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a union for all workers, with a specific focus on supporting workers in traditionally non-unionised industries. Recognising the transient and precarious nature of ‘gig-economy’, the IWW Couriers Network has been supporting workers who are not paid-up members of the IWW, and we will continue to do so. But such activities have costs, and the IWW depends on member’s dues to pay for anything. We have no paid officials, so you’re not paying for some union bureaucrat to sip champagne on their yacht. All dues go straight towards supporting workers in their struggles. It is also a union that you can take with you between jobs, and by joining you will be a part of a grassroots network of solidarity whoever you are working for and wherever you are based. It costs as little as £1 a month to join, and can be done online here.
What can I do if I still work for Deliveroo?
1. Speak to your fellow couriers, and reach out to any who’ve been terminated
Building direct relationships between workers is the first step towards building meaningful solidarity. Share your outrage about these terminations, and the threat that now hangs over the heads of those us us who still have a job. Especially try to make contact with anyone who was terminated in your city. Let them know that you support them, put them in touch with your local IWW/Couriers Network, and send them a link to this document!
2. Think about and discuss how you can communicate your anger to Deliveroo and show support and solidarity for the sacked couriers
For good reasons, many couriers are worried to stick their neck out and publicly challenge Deliveroo. As the current case shows, they have a tendency to sack us with no reason given and no chance to appeal it. There are a number of things you can do depending on what risks you’re willing to take, from contacting local media (who will often be happy to report such cases, and will most likely be willing to respect your anonymity), to holding strikes and pickets. Talk with your colleagues and former colleagues about what you feel you can do.
3. Support any actions planned in solidarity with the terminated workers
If a petition is circulated then sign it, and if a protest is organised then show up. Use a fake name or cover your face if that makes you feel more safe. It’s particularly important that if there’s a strike called in your city that you join it. If you don’t want to show your face in public, then at a minimum don’t accept orders during the specified hours. Withholding our labour is often the most powerful tool we have, but it only works when workers stand together as one.
What can I do if I don’t work for Deliveroo but want to show my support?
1. Speak with friends, family, and colleagues about what’s going on in Deliveroo.
Raising awareness is always a great place to start. It might be especially interesting to talk to colleagues about how this relates to your experience in the workplace. The ‘gig-economy’ model is being rolled out across many industries, particularly in the service sector, so the struggles we face today might be the struggles you face tomorrow. If you work in the food industry, or for a restaurant partner of Deliveroo, then it is especially important that we develop an understanding of each other as workers and how our struggles intersect.
2. If there is a strike or boycott in place then don’t order Deliveroo.
Even better, make it publicly known that you would have ordered a meal through Deliveroo but didn’t since you heard of the action taking place. Advertise the strike or boycott widely to maximise the effect.
3. Join a union (and be active in that union)!
An injury to one is an injury to all, and a victory to one strengthens all of us. The IWW is open to all workers, or there may be another union present in your workplace or industry, or you could even join both!
Please contact [email protected] to let us know if you have submitted a SAR / got a response / been rehired
Subject Access Request email
Deliveroo Contact Addresses
In line with my GDPR rights, I wish to make the following subject access request:
1) A copy of any and all information held about me by Deliveroo, whether by name or rider number.
2) I wish to receive copies of any and all emails on Deliveroo systems that mention me by name and / or any other identifier – eg rider number, phone number, vehicle registration number, email address – and in particular any that concern the termination of my contract.
3) Clearly you hold information on me which has led to you terminating my contract. I am asserting my legal rights to see any and all information regarding this termination, whether by name or any other identifier such as those stated above. Specifically I am requesting the data on each and every instance where I allegedly marked food as delivered in my app which was never delivered to the customer. This information should include date, time and postcode and any other material or identifiable information for each of these alleged offences please.
4) Please provide me with records relating to the assessment of each of my alleged failed deliveries, the reasons for your decision that each of these was not completed and evidence that you had to pay compensation to customers because of my alleged failure to deliver their food.
5) Can you please let me know who my data has been shared with, including any and all third parties.
If my request is not complied with, or is not responded to within the specified time, I will make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office in addition to seeking further legal advice.
Many thanks for your swift responses, you have up to one calendar month to deliver this information to me in electronic form to this email address.
Thank you for your cooperation
YOUR NAME, RIDER NUMBER, ADDRESS