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Dalston delivery drivers protest Hackney Mayor over lack of safe waiting areas

FAST-FOOD couriers protested outside Hackney Town Hall in east London today against a lack of safe waiting areas for collecting orders.

The Dalston-based workers, employed by app giants Deliveroo, UberEats and JustEat, slammed Hackney’s Labour Mayor Philip Glanville for recommending riders wait in a local car park, despite numerous concerns over safety and poor facilities.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which represents the staff, said Bentley Road car park, currently hosting a Covid-19 testing centre, has no shelter or toilets.

Off-site parking leaves gig economy couriers at greater risk of moped theft, the union warned, while riders have also reported “increased harassment from police and civil enforcement officers” while working.

IWGB said the borough’s council had waived parking fees for its members until March after some received “punitive” £65 fines, but from this spring couriers will be “forced to pay to wait for orders out of their own wages.”

In addition to backing from local socialist MP Diane Abbott, the union says nearly 350 supportive emails have been sent to the mayor and Capital Arches Group, which represents 30 McDonald’s stores in the area, from concerned residents.

Following a meeting last month between councillors and Capital, which failed to agree a solution, the couriers are urging Mr Glanville to work with employers to install infrastructure in the car park to make it suitable.

Ms Abbott said delivery riders are “valuable members of our community, our economy and society” and deserve better treatment, while IWGB president Alex Marshall said couriers needed a safe space to work “without the threat of harassment or extortionate parking fines.”

Hackney councillor Susan Fajana-Thomas told the Morning Star that it was “not the council’s role to provide amenities to help large-scale private companies get more business” but said she fully supports the workers’ fight for better conditions.

As well as the parking fee waiver, Ms Fajana-Thomas said the council was “looking to build a shelter” for the riders and had asked McDonald’s to allow them access to the company’s delivery yard.

A McDonald’s spokesperson told the Star that it backed calls for the workers to use the Bentley Road car park but claimed toilets in its stores were also available to them.

“We have offered to work with the council to help provide shelter for couriers at the proposed waiting area,” the spokesperson added.

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