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Deliveroo putting thousands of workers ‘at risk,’ MPs warn

A cross-party coalition of 44 politicians demand gig-economy company protects riders' incomes and safety

THOUSANDS of workers are being “put at risk” by Deliveroo, a cross-party coalition of 44 MPs warned today as they demanded the company protect the incomes and safety of riders. 

In a letter to the courier firm’s CEO, Will Shu, MPs said the company's actions counter efforts by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) to slow the spread of Covid-19. 

The MPs, including the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative Sir Peter Bottomley, demanded income protection, an end to sackings, and health-and-safety protection for couriers during the pandemic.

“Thousands of people are currently being put at risk by your actions,” the letter said.

“Deliveroo couriers are low-paid, precarious workers, who are not able to self-isolate when sick or to protect their families, and clients and restaurant staff and other key workers including NHS staff are being potentially exposed to infection.”

The letter said that ignoring the demands would be “highly irresponsible.”

Deliveroo has garnered significant support for publicly offering free meal vouchers to NHS workers.

But many of its riders have reported to IWGB that they are earning as little as £1 per hour, and the company has allegedly continued to sack couriers without evidence or the right to appeal. 

Mazamed Goox, a father of two from Birmingham who was recently fired for taking too long on deliveries said the company “doesn't even treat us like human beings.”

“They said I’d missed my chance to appeal because I missed their email,” he said.

“I work nights for sub-minimum wage, I don’t even have energy to play with my kids when I get home, let alone check my emails. They didn’t even have the decency to try calling me. 

“I felt sick when it happened, now all I can think about is how I can support my family. I was a key worker but Deliveroo never treated me like one.”

Courier Sam, whose name has been changed for fear of reprisals, warned that “drivers and customers are dying because of Deliveroo’s failure to take action”.

He said: “My wife is classed as high-risk and she is petrified because we have no protection, there’s no social distancing at Deliveroo. 

“Every day she begs me not to go to work but if I don’t, we’ll be homeless. We have three children. 

“We don’t want to risk their mother’s life but we don’t want them to be destitute, either. What am I supposed to do?”

IWGB couriers’ branch secretary Greg Howard said Deliveroo “has built its business model on precarity and poverty pay” which has been exacerbated during the pandemic where riders have been “unfairly terminated, paid far below the minimum wage and forced to work in unsafe conditions.”

“As Deliveroo is increasingly delivering to vulnerable people, it is not only riders that are being put at risk through this questionable business model, but the public as a whole,” he said.

“This work is vital and it can be done safely, but only if Deliveroo invests in the safety and the rights of its riders."

Deliveroo disputed claims of neglect and unfair terminations as “categorically untrue” and said riders “are at the heart of everything we do.”

The company said it was working hard to support riders during the pandemic, including by distributing PPE kits with masks and hand sanitisers, helping riders financially if they are unwell and keeping riders safe through contact-free delivery. 

Deliveroo said: "We are incredibly grateful and proud of the vital role riders are playing in their communities, helping the public, including the vulnerable and isolated, receive the food they need and want. We have dedicated teams on hand to support riders every step of the way through this crisis."

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