Food delivery workers based in Belfast will be staging a six-hour strike today (Wednesday) as part of their demands for a minimum income guarantee of at least £10 per hour plus operating costs.
Work will be stopped between the hours of 11am and 5pm, with a public protest to be held at McDonalds on Boucher Road in the city due to a pay dispute with Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
According to the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), fuel costs have risen by 36% and vehicle maintenance costs have increased by 30% compared to last year.
The workers have also complained of “increasingly intrusive on-the-job electronic surveillance and unreasonable levels of algorithmic control,” resulting in “unfair pay deductions and summary dismissals without right of appeal or representation”.
The ADCU stated that, as a result of these issues, Belfast’s food delivery drivers are now demanding an income guarantee to ensure that they will at least have the security of an earnings floor, as well as holiday pay.
An ADCU Belfast representative said: “Belfast’s hard-pressed food delivery workers are facing desperate circumstances because of the recent round of callous pay cuts just as we are dealing with historically high fuel and maintenance costs for our delivery vehicles.”
ADCU general secretary James Farrar commented that, while this may be the first gig economy strike in Northern Ireland, it will certainly not be the last unless a “rapid change in behaviour” is seen.
“Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats extract vast profits from the local community while impoverishing workers and violating their rights. By not placing an order on Wednesday during the strike time, customers can send a powerful message that the brutal exploitation of workers for profit by international so-called tech companies is not acceptable in Belfast,” he said.
A Just Eat spokesperson said: “We take any concerns raised by our couriers seriously. Our delivery payment model has been designed to give couriers the flexibility to deliver when they choose. We continue to offer a competitive base rate to self-employed couriers and pay is reviewed regularly.”