(Reuters) – A trade union is seeking recognition from British food delivery firm Deliveroo to allow it to negotiate a collective pay deal for its drivers, in the latest push for greater employment rights that could hit the flourishing ‘gig economy’.
The move comes barely two weeks after a tribunal ruled that taxi app Uber [UBER.UL] should pay its drivers sick and holiday pay as well as the minimum wage – a verdict that could affect tens of thousands of people across Britain.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) wants Deliveroo, which is valued at more than $1 billion (80 million pounds), to recognise it as a union in the Camden area of north London, in the first stage to boosting pay and conditions.
With their distinctive black and teal jackets, Deliveroo riders have become a familiar sight on London streets since the firm started trading in 2013, delivering food from restaurants.
In August, Deliveroo started paying riders per delivery rather than per hour, which was described as a piecemeal “Victorian system” by the opposition Labor Party and sparked opposition from some of its riders.
Deliveroo later apologized and said its riders could opt out of the new system, although the trials are continuing in areas such as Camden.
“We want to force Deliveroo into a collective bargaining agreement with the union so that we can negotiate pay and terms and conditions for our members,” said IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee.
“We want to get them recognized in law as being ‘workers’, just like the Uber case,” he added.
The gig economy – where individuals work for multiple employers day-to-day without a fixed contract – relies on the self-employed, who generally do not receive rights such as the 7.20 pound hourly minimum wage.
In a letter to Deliveroo, seen by Reuters, Moyer-Lee gave the firm 10 days to respond to the union’s request.
A company spokeswoman said on Tuesday: “As Deliveroo continues to grow, we are committed to providing great opportunities for UK riders, with the flexible work riders value, and a payment model which is fair, rewarding and better matches riders’ time with our customers’ orders.”