Deliveroo workers getting organised

By Shane Finnan

The working conditions of Deliveroo riders in Dublin have deteriorated over the course of the pandemic, their health and safety have been put at greater peril, with often tragic and fatal consequences. Last September saw the horrific killing of Thiago Cortes in a hit-and-run attack. 

Since the tragic death of Josh Dunne tensions have worsened. There’s a general consensus amongst Deliveroo riders that they feel unsafe working in parts of the city. The pandemic has intensified anti-social behaviour with a section of youth from the most hard-pressed areas. Deliveroo riders are targeted in racist attacks. An estimated 70-80% of Deliveroo riders are Brazilian, with the remainder predominantly Turks, Pakistanis, Indians, Spanish and some Irish. Many feel unsafe when in Deliveroo uniform and carrying the Deliveroo bags – as it makes them identifiable.

Essential workers with few rights

The series of level-five lockdowns has meant that Deliveroo riders are providing a frontline service. Fed-up with a spate of attacks and bike theft, Deliveroo riders have in recent weeks organised two unofficial strike actions that were partially observed. The actions have been widely supported online, however, the organisation of Deliveroo riders is in its early stages and they are learning through experience what works and what needs to be developed further.

Subcontracting exploitation

In order to officially work for Deliveroo one obtains an ‘account’ from them. What has happened is that a section of better established Deliveroo workers have subcontracted their account to undocumented workers and take a cut from their earnings. The people here on a student VISA are meant to only work 20 hours per week but in reality, they need to work 50 to 60 hours in order to get a living income to meet the rent and living expenses.

There is a big informal economy aspect to this and when an undocumented worker comes to harm Deliveroo deny any responsibility or duty of care.

We say:

  • Eliminate bogus self-employment as normalised by Deliveroo. 
  • Regularise the status of the undocumented so that they can free themselves from subcontractors.
  • Deliveroo must guarantee all riders a living wage.
  • Deliveroo must supply tracking devices and should cover any bikes stolen from Deliveroo riders. Any Deliveroo rider harmed in the course of their work should be medically covered and protected by Deliveroo.

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