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The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has today launched a £50,000 crowdfund appeal to help it fight Deliveroo in the courts and ensure the company respects the rights of its exploited courier workforce.
The fund will be used to cover existing and potential legal costs the union could be held liable for by the courts as part of its challenge against Deliveroo. The IWGB has already been saddled with a bill to cover £10,000 of Deliveroo’s legal costs.
The IWGB brought a case against Deliveroo for union recognition and worker status last year, arguing that by classifying its couriers as independent contractors, Deliveroo was unlawfully denying them basic employment rights, including a guaranteed minimum wage, holiday pay and collective bargaining rights.
Despite the overwhelming support of Deliveroo couriers for a collective bargaining unit, due to a legal loophole, the Central Arbitration Committee, a tribunal dealing with issues related to collective bargaining, ruled that the couriers could not be considered workers. The tribunal said the couriers were in fact independent contractors because they had a genuine right to find a substitute to do their job for them.
On 12 June, the IWGB will have an oral hearing before the High Court which it hopes will overturn a decision preventing the union from seeking a judicial review of the original ruling.
If successful, the union would be able to challenge the loophole used by Deliveroo to deny its couriers employment rights. The IWGB will say that the CAC erred in the facts and as a matter of law when it ruled that the substitution clause in Deliveroo’s contract meant the couriers were in fact independent contractors.
IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Out of all of the high-profile “gig economy” worker rights cases, Deliveroo has been the only company to successfully exploit a loophole in order to avoid giving basic rights to riders. They now want to exploit the fact that they have several million more pounds than we do to intimidate us out of a successful appeal. Justice demands that we get the means to fight this case to the end.”
Deliveroo courier Mohaan Biswas said: “We love working flexibly, but we can’t continue living in crippling poverty. We deserve basic rights and there is no reason why Deliveroo should deny us things such as a minimum wage and holiday pay. We are determined to keep on fighting until Deliveroo does, or is forced to do, what is right.”
The crowdfund is being supported by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Green Party Co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, and columnists Owen Jones and Aditya Chakraborty.
The IWGB is being represented by barristers John Hendy QC and Katherine Newton, and solicitors Harrison Grant.
The crowdfund can be found here: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/deliverjustice/
Updates on the campaign can be found following the hashtag #deliverjustice.