Food delivery service Deliveroo and GMB have been slammed by an independent workers’ union for announcing a partnership described as a “hollow and cynical PR move”.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement, announced by the GMB Union and the company on Thursday, is the first of its kind globally and will allow GMB collective bargaining rights with couriers, according to the union.
The agreement has been criticised heavily on social media, and now by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
The IWGB has been affiliated with Deliveroo couriers since 2016 and said the “announcement is nothing more than a hollow and cynical PR move” ahead of the delivery service’s Annual General Meeting on May 20.
It has claimed that Deliveroo has spent large sums of money fighting the IWGB in court to prevent collective bargaining with its riders, under the guise that unionising would “come at the cost of flexible working”.
IWGB has called for the UK Government to review the Union Recognition legislation, alleging that it has been “routinely undermined” by companies who partner with unions.
It added that voluntary agreements such as this should be contestable, to uphold true representation of workers in democratic workplaces.
The announcement has followed a string of protests and strikes by Deliveroo riders over pay and working conditions.
Dom Styber, IWGB Couriers branch chair and Deliveroo rider said: “From striking against cuts in pay in 2016 to organising international protests on Deliveroo’s IPO year, couriers have been organising with the IWGB to fight against Deliveroo’s poverty pay and abysmal conditions. Deliveroo has spent this time refusing to negotiate with its workforce and fighting the IWGB in court to prevent collective bargaining.
“Under enormous public pressure, Deliveroo has cynically made this backroom deal with a union that has no record of organising couriers and presents no threat to their exploitative business practices, while our collective bargaining case is pending in the Supreme Court. Deliveroo is seeking to undermine the efforts of couriers to pursue their rights through the courts and to improve their working lives.”
The deal has been lauded by Labour MPs Gareth Thomas, Rachel Reeves, and Emily Thornberry.
Mick Rix, GMB national officer, said: “Thousands of riders across Scotland for one of the largest online food delivery services will now be covered by a collective agreement that gives them a voice – including pay talks, guaranteed earnings and representation in times of difficulty.
“This is a blueprint for those working in the platform self-employed sector.
“This is a valuable contribution in making work better across Scotland and to the future world of work.”
Will Shu, Deliveroo founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted to partner with the GMB in this first-of-its-kind voluntary agreement, giving self-employed riders flexibility, guaranteed earnings, representation and benefits.
“This voluntary partnership is based on a shared commitment between the GMB and Deliveroo to rider welfare and wellbeing. Together, we are focusing on what matters most to riders.”