The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) will take Deliveroo to the Supreme Court over collective bargaining rights.
The union claims that despite a recognition agreement with fellow union GMB on pay, pensions and insurance, drivers for the delivery app are still denied collective bargaining rights because they retain self-employed status.
According to the IWGB, the agreement with GMB fails to address “numerous problems” with Deliveroo’s employment practices. It fails to deal with issues such as overhiring of riders and riders not receiving pay while they wait at restaurants for orders, which leads to lower pay rates.
If the union wins its claim, couriers would be classified as workers for the purposes of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to freedom of assembly and association.
This would set a precedent for collective bargaining rights among gig economy workers, it argued.
When it announced its agreement with Deliveroo, GMB hailed it as “a blueprint for those working in the platform self-employed sector”, and a “valuable contribution in making work better and to the future world of work”.
GMB also formed a similar partnership with ride-hailing app Uber in 2021, announcing that it would be able to represent UK drivers in pay discussions and other negotiations on working conditions.
In June 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld a series of previous verdicts that Deliveroo riders should be considered self-employed.
Alex Marshall, IWGB president, said it was outrageous that Deliveroo continued to fight his union over collective bargaining rights when it granted these rights to “another unrepresentative union”.
“Clearly, Deliveroo accepts the legitimacy of collective bargaining for couriers but is simply not prepared to engage in collective bargaining with the union that has the largest membership of gig-economy couriers,” he said.
“Deliveroo should be investing this money in courier pay and conditions, rather than trying to silence its workers who only want a seat at the table.”
A Deliveroo spokesperson said: “UK courts have repeatedly found Deliveroo riders to be self-employed, which is the only status that offers riders the freedom and control they value.
“This case focuses solely on very narrow issues related to the right to collective bargaining in the UK. Even in this very narrow context, the UK courts have found Deliveroo riders to be self-employed and Deliveroo fully expects this to remain the case going forwards.
“Deliveroo is proud to offer flexible, self-employed work enjoyed by tens of thousands of riders across the country. Deliveroo riders can be their own boss while also having security while they work.
“Deliveroo was amongst the first platforms to offer riders free insurance, which we have extended to cover periods of illness and support for new parents, and our voluntary recognition agreement with the GMB Union gives riders guaranteed earnings, representation and benefits.”