Uber Eats couriers protest over pay

Uber Eats couriers shut down major London roads in protest demanding £5 minimum per delivery

'No one has organised this, it’s just a spontaneous show of anger at what is happening'

Chris Baynes
Thursday 20 September 2018 23:02
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Hundreds of Uber Eats couriers have abandoned deliveries and brought traffic to a standstill in London as they protest over pay.

Motorbike and moped riders blocked the roads outside the company’s UK headquarters in Aldgate East for the second day in a demonstration over changes which they said meant a cut to the minimum delivery rate.

The protest then moved onto parliament, where couriers blocked roads, sounded their horns and chanted “no money and no food”.

They are demanding a guaranteed minimum fee of £5 per delivery in London and a further £1 for every mile travelled on a job.

One striker, who did not want to be named, said: “Some of us are facing a cut from £4.60 a drop to £2.80, which is totally unacceptable.

“No-one has organised this, it’s just a spontaneous show of anger at what is happening.”

Riders are also calling for Uber Eats to abandon its “boost” system, which sees payment fluctuate depending on demand.

“They’re completely in the dark about how or when these rates are going to change, so people who are out there all day will be suffering from horrible low pay when they really need it,” said Tom Hobbert, of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain union, which represents some of the couriers.

He added: "It means those people will be quite substantially below minimum wage between those hours.”

Between 100 and 300 couriers took part in Thursday’s demonstration, with many planning to return for a third day of protests on Friday.

Police implemented a Section 35 dispersal order after the striking riders moved to Parliament Square on Thursday afternoon.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police are aware of large number of people on mopeds protesting at Whitehall.

“A Section 35 is now in place. Officers are at the scene.”

Uber Eats said the changes to its pay system would “help increase earnings during busy mealtimes”, but conceded couriers “may receive lower payments outside of typical meal times or in quieter areas”.

A spokesman said: “In response to feedback from couriers we’ve made some changes to our payment structure in London, which brings it into line with other cities.

“The changes will help increase earnings during busy mealtimes and, as we transition to the new system, we’re introducing minimum payment guarantees of £9-11 an hour.

“Making improvements in response to courier feedback is a top priority, such as the sickness, injury, maternity and paternity protections we recently introduced. Our door is always open for individual couriers to speak to us about any issues they’re having.”

The protest had a knock-on effect on Uber Eats customers in London as riders downed tools. Some took to social media to vent anger at the company.

“So Uber Eats you know there’s a strike outside your office,” wrote one customer. ”Yet you still let me wait over an hour. With no explanation.”

Another said: “Your service sucks. I had to be told ONE HOUR LATER after ordering my food that UberEats are on strike, how was I supposed to know this information with nothing written on the app? You’ve also still taken my money.”

Uber Eats riders are classed as self-employed, which means they are required to pay insurance and road tax for their vehicles, as well as handle their own tax returns.

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